- HHS released the final version of its roadmap to decrease clinician burden through incremental changes to push EHR systems toward interoperability while easing regulatory burden.
- CMS and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT have been working on the final report required by the 21st Century Cures Act since mid-2017. The strategy released Friday includes near-term suggestions like EHR developers upping the user-friendliness of interfaces and aligning reporting requirements across federal payer programs.
- Though the final report contains what ONC head Don Rucker called "best next steps," industry is ready for the Trump administration to release two sweeping final rules requiring payers and providers to remove silos preventing the free flow of patient health data, the subject of a fierce public debate since their proposal last year.
Federal rules along with clunky EHR systems are among the main drivers of physician burnout and can subtract a significant chunk of time from care delivery.
Three primary goals HHS outlined in the report are to reduce the time and effort it takes clinicians to record data in their EHR, reduce regulatory reporting requirements and improve the user experience of EHRs.
ONC noted in a Friday blog post the government has already taken steps to ameliorate time spent on administrative tasks while finalizing the report. For example, CMS revamped two-decades-old Evaluation and Management (E/M) documentation guidelines after hearing feedback they were complicated and contributing to EHR-related burden and "pajama time," where doctors stay after hours entering billing and quality reporting data.
The cuts, which go into effect in 2021, are expected to save providers some 2.3 million hours per year.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted the government can't eliminate outsized health IT burden on its own, and that addressing the myriad sources of clinician burden would take coordinated action from the public and private sectors. For example, EHR vendors like Epic and Cerner can improve their interfaces and standardized how clinical content is presented in their software.
Epic has lobbied fiercely against HHS' twin rules prohibiting data blocking between disparate health IT systems, citing privacy concerns once patient data is allowed to flow freely in and out of the protective umbrella of HIPAA. Though government insiders said the rules would be released early this year, they blew past the 90-day window for Office of Management and Budget review in January as patient advocates have clamored for their publication.