HHS aims to reduce clinician burden when using EHRs

CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) have issued their strategy to reduce the burdens clinicians face when it comes to using EHRs.

HHS released the “Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs,” outlining how EHRs have created burdens on clinicians as well as recommendations and strategies from HHS and other stakeholders to improve focus on patients rather than paperwork.

EHRs have been known to increase burnout among clinicians, while other studies have shown the technology is not very user friendly.

The Patients Over Paperwork initiative was launched by CMS Administrator Seema Verma to follow through on President Trump’s executive order to reduce regulations. The initiative aims to cut red tape and streamline regulations to increase efficiencies, reduce burdens and improve the patient care experience. Several regulatory changes over the past few years have fallen under the Patients Over Paperwork stamp.

“The taxpayers made a massive investment in EHRs with the expectation that it would solve the many issues that plagued paper-bound health records,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement. “Unfortunately––as this report shows­­––in all too many cases, the cure has been worse than the disease. Twenty years into the 21st century, it’s unacceptable that the application of Health IT still struggles to provide ready access to medical records––access that might mean the difference between life and death. 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.”

The report covers four main areas, including clinical documentation; health IT usability; federal health IT and HER reporting requirements; and public health reporting. The report also offers strategies for each of these areas.

“Usable, interoperable health IT is essential to a healthcare system that puts the patient at the center, like President Trump has promised,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “We received feedback from hundreds of organizations and healthcare providers on this new burden-reduction strategy, and the input made clear that there are plenty of steps still necessary to make IT more usable for providers and maximize the promise of electronic health records.”

The initial draft of the report from ONC and CMS was released in late 2018, and the final version issued includes three primary goals:

  • Reduce effort and time recording information in EHRs for healthcare providers when they are seeing patients
  • Reduce effort and time to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals and healthcare organizations
  • Improve functionality and ease of use of EHRs

ONC plans to continue reaching out to clinicians and other stakeholders to put the report into action.

See the full report here.