How Will HHS Address EHR Implementation Issues? | EHR and Health IT Consulting |

Over the last several years, physicians have lamented about a variety of EHR implementation issues and challenges with attesting to meaningful use requirements. The federal government is taking part in addressing some of these problems.

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., asked the Secretary from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Sylvia Burwell at a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the FY2016 budget whether this particular department will commit to fixing the many certified EHR implementation issues under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs.

Previously, Senator Alexander has expressed at a Senate Committee on Health, Education Labor and Pensions hearing that EHR technology has not sufficiently reduced costs nor helped improve care coordination due to a lack of EHR interoperability. Alexander also disapproves of the financial penalties under the EHR Incentive Programs that target physicians who have not successfully attested to meaningful use requirements.

At the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, the topic of discussion revolved around innovation in medicine as well as EHR implementation issues. Since Burwell has less than two years left as HHS Secretary, Senator Alexander wants to push solving EHR implementation issues to the top of her agenda. With government spending around the EHR Incentive Programs reaching $28 billion, it grows more imperative than ever before to tackle any problems and ensure efficient data sharing across healthcare facilities.

“Half the doctors are choosing not to participate in the program. Instead, they’ll face Medicare penalties this year,” Alexander told the committee.

“Doctors don’t like their electronic medical record systems by large,” Senator Alexander stated at the hearing. “They say they disrupt the workflow. They interrupt the doctor-patient relationship. They haven’t been worth the effort. An AMA-commissioned RAND study found that electronic health records are the leading cause of physician dissatisfaction. A medical economics survey last year found nearly 70% of physicians say their electronic health records haven’t been worth it – So, what I’d like to ask you is will you commit to putting on your list of things that you’d like to get done in the year and nine months that you plan to be here working with us, identifying five or six things that would make this promise of electronic health records something that physicians and providers look forward to instead of something they endure?”

HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell answered: “Yes. And after our meeting and our conversation, I think we’ve got a working group of staff ready to go, and we are committed to do that. I think that this is extremely important. In and of itself, but all of the things it touches.”

“The precision medicine issues that we’re talking about. Electronic records touch that issue,” Burwell said. “Delivery system reform – creating a system of healthcare delivery that has better quality and is more effective and efficient. It touches that. We should focus on it in and of itself. Where healthcare is going and where everything is going in terms of our ability to serve the consumer – the patient – in the way we need to, this is a core part. We welcome the opportunity, look forward to putting the list together, and look forward to getting it done. We’ll look at our administrative things and we want to work with you on what we need legislatively as well.”