Feds Offer Strategies For Tackling EHR Burden
By Joey Berlin

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The federal government is hoping to give physicians a hand in managing the burdens of one of their foremost time-eaters: Electronic health records (EHRs).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week released a report titled Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs.

There are plenty of steps still necessary to make IT more usable for providers and maximize the promise of electronic health records," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a release.

A few of the recommendations include better aligning EHR system designs with “real-world clinical workflow;” supporting automation of prior authorization processes through standardized templates; and continuing to provide funding to states to help promote interoperability among Medicaid practitioners.

The report stressed the importance of seeking out, and listening to, the recommendations of working physicians and other clinicians.

HHS released a draft of the report in November 2018 and crafted the final report based on more than 200 comments it received, the agency said in the release.

The report includes recommendations for:

  • Reducing the effort and time required to record information in EHRs when seeing patients;
  • Reducing the effort and time necessary to meet regulatory reporting requirements; and
  • Improving the functionality and ease of use of EHRs.

"Usable, interoperable health IT is essential to a health care system that puts the patient at the center, like President Trump has promised," Secretary Azar said. "We received feedback from hundreds of organizations and health care providers on this new burden-reduction strategy "

The strategies address four key areas of EHR-related burden: clinical documentation, health IT usability and the user experience, EHR reporting requirements, and public health reporting.

Seema Verma, administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in the release that taxpayers “made a massive investment in EHRs with the expectation that it would solve the many issues that plagued paper-bound health records. Unfortunately – as this report shows – in all too many cases, the cure has been worse than the disease. … The report’s recommendations provide valuable guidance on how to minimize EHR burden as we seek to fulfill the promise of an interoperable health system.”

Congress directed HHS to develop a strategy to reduce burdens related to EHRs as part of the 21st Century Cures Act, which was passed and signed in late 2016.

Last Updated On

February 27, 2020

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Joey Berlin

Associate Editor

(512) 370-1393
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Joey Berlin is associate editor of Texas Medicine. His previous work includes stints as a reporter and editor for various newspapers and publishing companies, and he’s covered everything from hard news to sports to workers’ compensation. Joey grew up in the Kansas City area and attended the University of Kansas. He lives in Austin.

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