An Opportunity to Help Lessen EHR Burden

Numerous studies have identified electronic health records (EHRs) as being the cause of great physician dissatisfaction and burn out with their jobs. Doctors feel that the requirements to use EHRs cuts into their personal interaction with patients and causes the MDs to spend more time documenting patient care than actually performing patient care. A much-used statistic indicates that an MD will spend two hours on the computer for every one hour of face-to-face time with a patient.

The 21st Century Cures Act recognized the issue and mandated U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a strategy to reduce EHR-related burdens that affect care delivery. Last week, the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), along with CMS, issued a 73-page draft document entitled Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs.

The public has 60 days, until January 28, 2019, to submit comments on the draft strategy, which has three main goals:

Reduce the effort and time required to record health information in EHRs for clinicians;
Reduce the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals, and healthcare organizations; and
Improve the functionality and intuitiveness (ease of use) of EHRs.

“Information technology has automated processes in every industry except healthcare, where the introduction of EHRs resulted in additional burden on clinicians,” said the ONC’s Don Rucker. “Health IT tools need to be intuitive and functional so that clinicians can focus on their patients and not documentation. This draft strategy identifies ways the government and private sector can alleviate burden.”