Mostashari’s Call for “Day of Action” Is a Double Edged Sword

Neil Versel has a great article on MedCity News that covers some comments from Farzad Mostashari at HIMSS 2015. Here’s a section of his article:

Patient advocates are planning a “day of action” to generate mass demand for consumer access to medical records in the wake of a plan to roll back the Meaningful Use requirement for engaging patients in their own care.

“I think we need to show the policymakers that they’re not just pushing rope here. We need to show that there’s demand,” former national health IT coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari said Sunday afternoon during a preconference symposium on patient engagement before the start of HIMSS15 in Chicago.

While I think that Farzad’s suggestion is noble in idea, my gut tells me that it could backfire in a very significant way. You have to remember that a call for a “day of action” is a double edge sword. If that day goes off successfully, then it could make a great case for why we should be requiring the 5% patient engagement in meaningful use as opposed to the single patient record download that’s just been proposed.

However, the opposite can also happen too. If you call for a day of action and then patients don’t request access to their records, then it will lead many to say “We were right. Patients don’t care about accessing their patient records.” This conclusion would be incredibly damaging to the movement towards patients’ getting access to their medical records.

This would be true even if there were other reasons that the day of action wasn’t successful. For example, if you do some poor PR and marketing of the day of action, then It could very likely fail. I’m talking big boy PR and marketing to really get the word out to patients. Healthcare social media and even all of the attendees at HIMSS won’t have the power to get the word out about this idea in order to really see it take off.

While I think the goal is noble and Farzad is right that patients need to really start demanding their data, I think this idea of a “Day of Action” could end really poorly if we’re not careful about it.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • The challenge remains, people do not care about access to their health information. Their interest is what the information can do for them. This is a critical distinction, because records alone do not provide value for patients. Records integrated into third party apps, health management programs, value based benefit designs, condition management apps – that is when/how patient demand will explode and become a driver of change.

  • I have to agree with Brian here, its not just about giving access to the data and “checking the box” on that. That is a cop-out and extremely short-sighted. If we were trying to engage a demographic in behavior change which is what is at the heart of all this we can look at what is happening in the personal finance (and specifically one targeted towards Gen Y) to see how to make the data meaningful and actionable by the constituents.

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