HHS' Dr. Farzad Mostashari: EHRs Improve Patient Safety

On July 15, Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national coordinator for health IT, appeared on NPR's All Things Considered to promote electronic health records as a tool to improve patient safety.

"Paperwork is just fine if you want to deliver healthcare the way you sell shoes," said Dr. Mostashari. "If you want to coordinate care with other providers and engage patients in their care, paper is not 'just fine,'" he said.

"There's lots of data that says each one of these pieces [of EHR adoption] is effective," said Dr. Mostashari. "Electronic prescribing — ordering medications through a computer that can tell you there's a drug-drug interaction is safer than hand-scrawling it on paper. When we started four years ago, 93 percent were hand-scrawled prescriptions, now it's less than half," he said.

"The concept here is that person plus computer is better than person alone," he said. "The key thing is you can't just plop in technology. You have to work with the people and the processes, work with the training and look at the workflows that you're doing and not just repeat the same broken processes that you were doing before. So care towards implementation is absolutely critical."

"The best thing we can do for patient safety is to get off paper," he said.

More Articles on Dr. Farzad Mostashari:

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Health IT National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari Defends Proposed EHR Vendor Fee

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