Se­nate com­mit­tee seeks keys to EHR user friend­li­ness

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK AHEAD - —Joseph Conn

The Se­nate Health, Ed­u­ca­tion, La­bor & Pen­sions Com­mit­tee will hold a hear­ing this week to dis­cuss the ways in which pa­tients might ac­cess their med­i­cal records to help im­prove their own healthcare.

Among the sched­uled wit­nesses is Raj Rat­wani, sci­en­tific di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Hu­man Fac­tors in Healthcare at Med Star Health, Washington, D.C.

Rat­wani cre­ated a buzz re­cently when JAMA pub­lished an ar­ti­cle sum­ma­riz­ing his re­search, which found some ven­dors of elec­tronic healthrecord sys­tems failed to meet fed­eral com­pli­ance rules and guide­lines for user-cen­tered de­sign un­der the $31 bil­lion Medi­care and Med­i­caid elec­tronic health-records in­cen­tive pro­gram.

Other wit­nesses sched­uled to ap­pear be­fore the com­mit­tee in­clude Kathy Giusti, founder and CEO of the Mul­ti­ple Myeloma Re­search Foun­da­tion, and Eric Dishman, a fel­low and gen­eral man­ager for health and life sciences at chip­maker In­tel Corp.

The Se­nate com­mit­tee, chaired by La­mar Alexan­der (R-Tenn.), has been bur­row­ing into the 5-year-old fed­eral EHR in­cen­tive pro­gram in sev­eral hear­ings over re­cent months. The com­mit­tee has fo­cused on health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems’ in­ter­op­er­abil­ity or lack thereof. In June, Alexan­der called the in­abil­ity of healthcare in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems to ex­change in­for­ma­tion “a glar­ing fail­ure.”

But wit­nesses at a June 11 hear­ing warned against a blunt leg­isla­tive ap­proach to achiev­ing wide­spread in­ter­op­er­abil­ity, ask­ing in­stead that Congress use its in­flu­ence with HHS to ad­just and im­prove ex­ist­ing pro­grams.

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