Se­nate panel to re­visit EHR prob­lems

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Joseph Conn

A Se­nate panel Tues­day will hold its sec­ond hear­ing in six days on prob­lems with the fed­eral ini­tia­tive to ex­pand the use of elec­tronic health records.

Last week, poor EHR in­ter­op­er­abil­ity was the sub­ject of a ses­sion held by the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor and Pen­sions. Congress has ex­pressed height­ened in­ter­est in EHRs and in­ter­op­er­abil­ity in re­cent months, as well as grow­ing crit­i­cism of EHR ven­dors over the lack of in­ter­op­er­abil­ity.

Sen. La­mar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the panel’s chair­man, called the in­abil­ity to ex­change health in­for­ma­tion “a glar­ing fail­ure.” But health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ex­perts told com­mit­tee mem­bers that what is needed is per­sua­sion rather than leg­is­la­tion.

In the House, the 21st Cen­tury Cures leg­is­la­tion to over­haul the drug and de­vice ap­proval process in­cludes new rules for in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, tele­health and other health IT ar­eas.

“There’s no such thing as an (EHR) with an ‘A’ grade to­day” for us­abil­ity, said Dr. John Berneike, clin­i­cal direc­tor of St. Mark’s Fam­ily Medicine, a Salt Lake City med­i­cal group, who also serves as an ad­viser to the fed­eral health IT co­or­di­na­tor’s of­fice.

The Of­fice of the Na­tional Co­or­di­na­tor for Health In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy at HHS has been “right on the mark” with most pro­vi­sions of the EHR in­cen­tive-pay­ment pro­gram, he said. But it “missed the boat a lit­tle bit in that they didn’t have a re­quire­ment on end-user us­abil­ity.” His ONC work group is now con­sid­er­ing adding cri­te­ria on user ex­pe­ri­ence to the agency’s EHR testing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion pro­gram.

Berneike said he’s OK with Congress step­ping in to ad­dress the prob­lems with EHRs and health IT gen­er­ally. “Some say let the mar­ket take care of it, but the mar­ket has not fixed it,” he said.

Berneike

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