ONC releases draft strategy on reducing EHR burden


A new federal proposal aims to move you away from the keyboard and back face-to-face with your patients.

Dr. Kate Goodrich of the George Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC

Dr. Kate Goodrich

The draft strategy from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has three aims: to reduce the time and effort to record information in EHRs; to reduce the time and effort required to meet regulatory requirements; and to improve the functionality and ease of use of EHRs.

“This draft strategy includes recommendations that will allow physicians and other clinicians to provide effective care to their patients with a renewed sense of satisfaction for them and their patients,” Andrew Gettinger, MD, chief clinical officer at ONC, and Kate Goodrich, MD, chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, wrote in a recent blog post. “We are taking one more step toward improving the interoperability and usability of health information by establishing a goal, strategy, and recommendations to reduce regulatory and administrative burdens relating to the use of EHRs.”

To ease documentation burdens, the proposal seeks to “mitigate the EHR-related burden associated with a variety of administrative processes,” the draft strategy notes. “We are considering how reforming certain administrative requirements or optimizing out-of-date requirements for health IT–enabled health care provider work flows can reduce the burden of clinical documentation.”

Specifically, ONC proposes to reduce the overall regulatory burden, leverage data present in the electronic record to reduce the redocumentation, waive certain documentation requirements for participants in advanced alternative payment models (APMs), and promote standardized documentation for ordering and prior authorization.

To improve health IT usability, the draft strategy aims to “address how improvements in the design and use of health IT systems” can reduce burden and calls on clinicians, software developers, and other vendors to collaborate.

To do so, ONC recommends better alignment between EHR design and clinical work flow and making improvements to clinical decision support, as well as improving the presentation of clinical data within EHRs and clinical documentation functionality.

ONC also recommends standardizing basic clinical operations across all EHRs, designing EHR interfaces that are standard to health care delivery, and better integration of the EHR with the exam room.

The draft strategy also includes recommendations to help doctors better understand the financial requirements for successful implementation and optimize the log-in procedures to help reduce burden.

doctor at computer, head in hands thinkstockphotos.com

EHR reporting strategies “are designed to address many of the programmatic, technical, and operational challenges raised by stakeholders to reduce EHR-related burden associated with program reporting.”

ONC wants to simplify scoring for the “promoting interoperability” performance category in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) track of the Quality Payment Program and improving other measures of health IT usage; applying additional data standards to make data access, extraction, and integration across multiple systems easier and less costly; and exploring alternate, less burdensome approaches to electronic quality measurement through pilot programs and reporting program incentives.

Finally, public health reporting strategies “look at a set of topics linked to federal, state, local, territorial, and tribal government policies and public health programs, with a specific focus on EPCS [electronic prescribing for controlled substances] and PDMPs [prescription drug monitoring programs]. Where EHR-related burden remains a key barrier to progress in these areas, there are several recommendations for how stakeholders can advance these burden reduction goals related to public health.”

In this area, ONC is recommending increasing adoption of e-prescribing of controlled substances with access to medication history to better inform prescribing of controlled substances, harmonizing reporting requirements across federally funded programs to streamline reporting requirements, and providing better guidance about HIPPA and federal confidentially requirements governing substance abuse disorder to better facilitate the electronic exchange of health information for patient care.

Comments on the report may be submitted electronically through Jan. 28, 2019.

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