Lawmakers form working group to find ways to improve EHRs

A new bipartisan committee's working group will gather on Capitol Hill throughout the coming months to find ways to improve electronic health records, according to Senate health committee chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and ranking member Patty Murray (D-Wash.).

The group will work to find five or six ways to "make the failed promise of electronic health records something that physicians and providers look forward to instead of something they endure," Murray said in an announcement.

While adoption of EHRs has grown, many physicians aren't satisfied with the technology. In a recent survey by Accenture of 600 U.S. physicians, only 46 percent believe EHRs improve treatment decisions and 64 percent believe they reduce medical errors. EHR adoption also appears to have leveled off, FierceEMR previously reported.

All members of the Senate health committee are invited to be a part of the working group. Staff meetings begin this week, with participation from health IT professionals, industry experts and government agencies.

The working group's goals include the following:

  • Help providers improve quality of care and patient safety.
  • Facilitate interoperability between EHR vendors.
  • Empower patients to engage in their own care through access to their health data.
  • Protect privacy and security of health information.

The working group isn't the only way Alexander and Murray are pushing for change when it comes to EHRs.

Both spoke at a recent Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing of the Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee regarding the Health and Human Services Department's budget. The senators told Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell that, despite $28 billion in subsidies pursuant to the Meaningful Use program, physicians are not adopting EHRs as hoped.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement