Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Congressional Intervention on its Way for EHR Use

The Senate HELP committee plans to see seven bills regarding EHR use and interoperability starting in February.

By Sara Heath

- Congress plans to intervene on the future trajectory of EHR and health IT use, according to a public statement from the office of Senator Lamar Alexander, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee.

senate help committee

On February 9, the committee will hold a session seeing several different bills regarding health IT, including ones about EHR use and interoperability.

The draft bill has several goals for the future of EHR use, including decreasing superfluous physician documentation reporting, increasing patient access to health records, and making health records accessible to all health professionals, especially nurses.

To specifically enhance interoperability, the committee will discuss the eradication of data blocking, ensuring governors’ certifications of a health record system is transparent and does what it says it should, and improving standards.

The future of physician EHR use and interoperability have become major topics of conversation throughout the healthcare industry over the course of the past week and a half.

Last week at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, Andy Slavitt of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the agency will work to restructure the program to become more patient and physician oriented. This restructuring of the program will potentially include fewer prescriptive requirements from the government, and instead support physician needs to produce quality care outcomes.

Following that announcement, Slavitt and the National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo posted a blog article explaining their plans further, confirming that as of right now the meaningful use program will proceed as it exists, and that these changes will take time to develop and implement.

Alexander’s potential legislation seeks to follow a theme of healthcare reform. Throughout the course of the past year, a lot got done in healthcare legislation, and Alexander says that improving EHR and health IT legislation is the next step in keeping up with all of the innovation.

“Senators and staff on our committee have been working together throughout 2015 to produce a number of bipartisan pieces of legislation that are ready for the full committee to consider,” Alexander said. “The House has completed its work on the 21st Century Cures Act. The president has announced his support for a precision medicine initiative and a cancer ‘moonshot.’ It is urgent that the Senate finish its work and turn into law these ideas that will help virtually every American.”

The HELP committee will convene to discuss a total of seven potential bills, including the following:

·  Bipartisan HELP Committee legislation to improve electronic health records.

·  The FDA Device Accountability Act of 2015 (S.1622), sponsored by Sens. Burr (R-N.C.) and Franken (D-Minn.);

·  The Advancing Targeted Therapies for Rare Diseases Act of 2015 (S.2030), sponsored by Sens. Bennet (D-Colo.), Burr (R-N.C.), Warren (D-Mass.), and Hatch (R-Utah);

·  The Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act of 2015 (S.849), sponsored by Sens. Isakson (R-Ga.) and Murphy (D-Conn.);

·  The Next Generation Researchers Act (S.2014), sponsored by Sens. Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Collins (R-Maine);

·  The Enhancing the Stature and Visibility of Medical Rehabilitation Research at the NIH Act (S. 800), sponsored by Sens. Kirk (D-Ill.), Bennet (D-Colo.), Hatch (R-Utah), Murkowski (R-Alaska), Isakson (R-Ga.), and Collins (R-Maine); and

·  Legislation regarding FDA regulation of duodenoscopes.

In addition to holding this session in February, Alexander says that the committee will release a draft of an EHR bill later this week that will be open for public comment. Additionally, the HELP committee plans to convene again in March to consider a series of other related legislation.

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