Contrary to the beliefs of some, electronic health records are far from a silver bullet for healthcare documentation issues. Joyce Sensmeier, vice president of informatics with HIMSS, made that perfectly clear during a hearing last week at the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation, voicing several concerns relating to meaningful use Stage 1 standards selection, reports CMIO.
Sensmeier specified three areas of concern: data transport and basic security; the selection of multiple standards for the same criterion; and the timing involved with identification and publication of selected standards in rules for industry use.
With regard to data transport and security, Sensmeier said that identifying an accepted method would help with preparation for Stage 2 of meaningful use. "[I]t is important to designate standards for documenting the content of clinical summaries, but if we don't know how to transmit these summaries or acknowledge their receipt, we will have limited interoperability," she said.
On the multiple standards issue, Sensmeier used the example of Continuity of Care Records (CCR) and Continuity of Care Documents (CCD), emphasizing that only one standard should be used for each criterion for Stage 2 and beyond. "When two standards are selected, vendors and providers have to choose to support one standard, or instead, support both, which is very costly, resource-intensive and minimizes interoperability capabilities across organizations," she said.
As for the timing of publishing the standards within the rules, Sensmeier urged that all final rules for meaningful use and certification criteria be accessible 18 months before the beginning of the next meaningful use stage. "[The timing] is critical to ensure that the industry can appropriately incorporate the standards into the product development and implementation cycle," she said.
Similarly last week, speaking at the AHIMA conference in Orlando, Ardent Health Services' Ann Meehan and Julia Kendrick identified what they believe to be some of the biggest myths about electronic health records, according to Healthcare IT News. Among the most egregious myths were that EHRs only create efficiency and that record storage no longer will be necessary.
"[M]anual workarounds will always be necessary," Kendrick said. "Moreover, headaches will be plentiful as departments push back to varying degrees. For some, paper records will always be the preferred choice."