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HHS Issues Draft Strategy to Reduce Health IT Burden


The department is seeking public comment on its recommendations to reduce IT burden.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) issued a new draft strategy today that it hopes will reduce the burden that health information technology (IT) has caused for clinicians.

Led by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the draft was created to fulfill a requirement of the 21st Century Cures Act.

The draft strategy outlines three goals to quell clinician burden: reduce the effort and time required to document health information in electronic health records (EHRs), cut the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals and healthcare organizations and improve the functionality and ease of use of EHRs.

>> READ: EHRs Cut Costs, Hospitalization Time

“Clinicians have reported they are spending more time entering data into the EHR, leaving less time to interact with their patients,” HHS said in the release.

The department built recommendations for four areas of improvement: clinical documentation, health IT usability and the user experience, EHR reporting and public health reporting.

One strategy is to reduce the regulatory burden around documentation requirements for patient visits by leveraging existing EHR data. This could reduce re-documentation in clinical notes. Additionally, documentation requirements could be waived for testing or administering alternative payment models.

Another strategy is to continue partnering with clinical stakeholders to encourage adoption of documentation best practices.

“Progress in this area, along with new policies to reduce documentation burden associated with (evaluation/management) guidelines, will help to reduce duplicative documentation among care teams and template-driven ‘note bloat,’” HHS wrote in the strategy recommendation.

Health IT developers can also better align the EHR system design with real-world clinical workflow. This strategy is all about cutting the number of required clicks to complete necessary actions. The fewer clicks, the better for clinicians.

“Addressing the challenge of health IT burden and making EHRs useful for patients and providers, as the solutions in this draft aim to do, will help pave the way for value-based information,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

When it comes to EHR reporting, the department plans to simplify requirements and incentivize easier, value-driven approaches. That could mean, for example, revising program feedback reports to better support clinician needs and improve care.

CMS Administrator Seema Verma, MPH, said the draft was made after gathering information from a wide range of clinical stakeholders, listening sessions and written feedback about current health IT systems over the last year.

The draft of “Safety and Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs” is open for submissions of public comments that will close at 11:59 p.m. Jan. 28, 2019. The final draft will be posted in late 2019.

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