Electronic health records create a number of problems for providers

We live in an electronic age where life is supposed to be easier and more efficient and in many ways it is. In the healthcare arena, electronic medical records (EMRs) were supposed to make life easier for doctors by helping to free up time and streamline the process.

Case in point, doctors could send prescriptions directly to the drug store, a patient’s medical history could be pulled up on a computer screen and, if necessary, transferred to another physician quickly.

But a recent survey published in the latest Journal of the American Medical Association finds physicians complaining about the amount of time it takes for them to enter records into a computer. Indeed, more than 60 percent of those doctors surveyed said it took them on average 48 minutes longer.

And, because the records also include a significant amount of information relating to billing and coding, physicians on the receiving end of a patient’s medical records often have to sift through all of the information to find what he or she needs to know about that patient’s health.

Under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, the federal government offers financial incentives to healthcare providers that have computerized their health records and can provide a “meaningful use” of how they are being shared. As of September 30, The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) had paid out more than $25 billion in incentive payments to those participating in the meaningful use program.

However, according to newly released numbers from CMS less than 17 percent of the nation’s hospitals have demonstrated Stage 2 capabilities. And, less than 38 percent of eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals have met either Stage of Meaningful Use this year, highlighting the difficulty of program requirements.

Last month, the American Medical Association sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with recommendations about how to improve the program.

Recommendations include:

  • Adopting a more flexible approach for meeting Meaningful Use to allow more physicians to successfully participate;
  • Better aligning quality measure requirements including reducing the reporting burden on physicians and helping relieve them from overlapping penalties;
  • Ensuring quality measures and clinical decision support within the program are current to improve care for patients and ensure physicians are following the latest evidence; and
  • Restructuring EHR certification to focus on key areas like interoperability.
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The Health Law Offices of Anthony C. Vitale