Meet Mohammad – The Trailblazer

By Mohammad Agha, MD, assistant professor of Clinical PM&R and Orthopedic Surgery; HIMSS Champion of Health

Mohammad is a physiatrist and academic physician who practices in Missouri. He’s blazing trails by working to maximize technology to reduce the burden on practitioners and add joy to the practice of medicine, and to use technology to improve care quality and patient access and reduce costs. His favorite part about his work is interacting with his colleagues and patients and helping his patients improve their health.

I love seeing patients improve because they’ve gotten the right care at the right time.

As a physiatrist, I specialize in musculoskeletal complaints with an added expertise in using ultrasound to diagnose a muscle, tendon, bone or nerve issue. I see patients from 18 to 95 (!) years old who have shoulder, hip, knee, back or neck pain. And I have great colleagues who help me ensure our patients get the right care at the right time.

It’s gratifying to see people back who are doing better after seeing me and seeing how that translates into fulfilling their roles as workers, parents and friends. The staff and physicians I work with are awesome and make every day fun.

It’s a full day, so after seeing patients and completing dictations, I relax at home with my wife, watching our shows, or heading to the gym. Most nights I have a conference call for local or national organizations within my specialty – which is physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) – or other organizations.

I’m an academic physician, so I also take part in teaching resident physicians about a musculoskeletal topic, ultrasound or healthcare finances.

One of the biggest challenges is managing the clinical side of practicing medicine with the administrative duties.

My goals are to maximize technology to reduce the burden on physicians and other healthcare practitioners to add joy to the practice of medicine, and to use technology to improve care quality and reduce costs for everyone.

I’m currently focused on interoperability and telehealth. Missouri is the only state in the country that does not have a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. There have been recent advancements at the local level, but progress has been slow.

I’m working with my HIMSS colleagues in both St. Louis and Kansas City to advance this initiative to reduce the damage that the opioid epidemic has caused in our state. I’m also working on how we can leverage healthcare technology to increase patient access via telehealth so more Missourians can get convenient high-quality care.

My motivation is always keeping my eye on my goals: taking care of patients in the clinic and building programs to take care of my community.

After a year in practice, I developed an interest in healthcare at large and obtained a master’s in health administration. With this new knowledge and toolset, I want to ensure trainees going through our PM&R program at the University of Missouri-Columbia are well prepared for the challenges facing them when they graduate and go into practice.

One of the things I love about health information and technology is telehealth.

As a HIMSS EMR Adoption Stage 7 and Davies Award winner, we’ve worked on increasing access to high-quality care by using telehealth in multiple departments. My ability to communicate directly with patients via the EHR has helped improve care quite a bit. Instead of the old back-and-forth of phone calls, we can now have conversations about test results and next steps. My organization, MU Healthcare, is in the center of Missouri, and many of our patients drive two, three or even four hours to come see a doctor.

My superpower is reading and learning.

I am constantly reading and learning about what’s happening in healthcare and how others have solved problems. It’s energizing to see how the best organizations in healthcare are moving us forward.

My kryptonite is the risk of burnout.

There’s always the risk of burning out when trying to solve big problems. Having a great group of people to work with keeps this at bay.

I am a champion of health because…

There’s no better way to make a mark in life than by taking care of your community.

It’s an exciting time to be in healthcare. There’s so much change and with it an opportunity to fix what’s been holding us back. I look forward to working with everyone at HIMSS to be part of the solution as we advance healthcare in the 21st century.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog or by commenters are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of HIMSS or its affiliates.


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