Senators Announce Working Group To Address EHR Adoption Issues

April 30, 2015 in News

On Wednesday, Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced the formation and official launch of a bipartisan working group that will seek to identify ways to improve the state of electronic health records, FierceEMR reports (Dvorak, FierceEMR, 4/30).

Background

During a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing last week, lawmakers expressed concerns about barriers to EHR adoption under the meaningful use program.

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHRs can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

During the hearing, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell committed to working with the Senate to address EHR problems (iHealthBeat, 4/24).

Working Group Details

According to the announcement, the group will work to find five or six ways to correct the “failed promise” of EHRs (FierceEMR, 4/30).

Specifically, the working group aims to:

  • Facilitate data exchange and achieve interoperability among various EHR vendors and other health care professionals;
  • Give patients easy access to their health information to facilitate patient engagement;
  • Help providers improve care quality and patient safety;
  • Leverage health IT as a means to improve patient safety; and
  • Protect patient privacy and data security.

Participation in the group is open to all members of the Senate health committee. In addition, the working group meetings will consist of:

  • Health IT developers and experts;
  • Health professionals; and
  • Relevant government agencies.

In the announcement, Alexander said that EHR systems so far “haven’t been worth the effort,” but the working group will seek to make EHRs “something that physicians and providers look forward to instead of something they endure” (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 4/30).

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