EHR-Related Senate Bill Causing Controversy

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EHR-Related Senate Bill Causing Controversy

A proposed Senate Bill (S.2511) which aims at “to improve Federal requirements relating to the development and use of electronic health records technology” has come under fire by EHR vendors, Politicio reports. The bill aims to “address health IT problems such as interoperability and usability.”

While a seemingly thought out proposition at first glance, members of the health IT community are fighting back against such a bill. The Electronic Health Record Associated (EHRA) uncharacteristically spoke out against the bill. The EHRA “wanted to fight back against the provider narrative that EHRs are expensive, clunky, unusable productivity killers.”

“To pass new legislation in many ways would either be duplicative or set progress back,” Chris Emper, chair of the EHRA’s policy committee, told attendees. Relay Health’s Arien Malec, co-chair of the ONC standards advisory committee, said the government has plenty of standards, and “congressional action can do as much harm as good.”

The chief problem the Senate Bill wanted to address was to make “electronic health record system[s] something that helps patients rather than something that doctors and hospitals dread so much that patients are not helped.”—however, many feel that government oversight will do little to help progress.

Should EHRs Issues Be Solved Internally?

Organizations like the EHRA believe that problems related to EHRs should be solved internally. An ONC report highlights recent estimates on the state of interoperable exchange activity among U.S. non-federal acute care hospitals, and overwhelmingly has shown that the percent of hospitals electronically sending, receiving, and finding key clinical information grew significantly between 2014 and 2015. Key factors such whether data was send, received, or integrated were measured in the report. Many believe that EHRs having been progressing in meaningful ways.

We can look at other organizations such as HL7 who have created technology within the industry without government intrusion. Their industry-driven health IT exchange standards HL7 is the most used standard in the health industry, and new more promising standards are continuing to roll out.

Government Oversight to Spur Progress

While many would not like a watchdog over their back, it may be beneficial for everyone. Stricter requirements and certifications may create an environment that makes everyone accountable for their technology, which may improve reactions among doctors.

The chief concerns that the Senate Bill wishes to address are ones about interoperability and usability, that is, valuable use of health information, and ease of use for doctors and other users of EHRs. Governmental oversight could be beneficial as they could bridge the communication gap between vendors and hospital staff.

In the end, everyone’s goal is interoperability and a healthcare climate that works for everyone. How we get there, is still up for debate.