Senate Committee Scrutinizes EHR Usability

Tue, Jun 23, 2015 --


US capitol at dusk

Senator Lamar Alexander, (R-TN) chair of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the committee’s ranking member, announced a bipartisan working group to review EHR usability. Four invited experts testified at a June 10 hearing, including Thomas Payne, MD, board chair elect of American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA); Neil Patterson, CEO of Cerner, which with Epic is among the top two EHR vendors; Craig Richardville, senior vice president and CIO of Carolinas HealthCare System; and Christine Bechtel, advisor to the National Partnership for Women & Families, an organization that advocates for patients and their ability to control their own health data.

Burwell Faces Senate Inquiry on EHRs and ICD-10

At an April Senate Appropriations subcommittee meeting, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell faced questions about clinician problems with EHRs under the Meaningful Use (MU) program, as well as the approaching ICD-10 deadline. Alexander said that most doctors don’t like their EMR systems’ interruption of the doctor-patient relationship, citing the AMA-commissioned RAND Corporation study that identified EHRs as the leading cause of physician emotional fatigue, professional dissatisfaction, and lost enthusiasm for practicing medicine. Alexander told the committee and Burwell that the Senate HELP Committee will be identifying five or six EHR problems that can be addressed either through HHS or through legislation. Burwell said that HHS welcomed these hearings and looked forward to getting the EHR issues solved.

Cassidy: Smaller Practices at Risk in ICD-10 Switch

Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, an MD from Louisiana, told Burwell that though large hospitals were ready for ICD-10 deployment, smaller practices were at risk from higher denial rates and increased days in accounts receivable. He cited CMS estimates that in the early stages of implementation, denial rates would rise by 100 to 200 percent, and days in A/R would rise from 20 to 40 percent. Cassidy suggested a CMS delay of the penalty phase portion of ICD-10 implementation for two years to ease the transition.

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Stay Tuned: Tomorrow, the Senate HELP Committee investigates EHR woes


Susan taught health information and healthcare documentation at the community college level for more than 20 years. She has a special love for medical language and terminology. She is passionate about ensuring accurate patient healthcare documentation through education. She has a master's degree in healthcare administration, is a certified healthcare documentation specialist, and serves as immediate past president for the Association for Healthcare Documentation Integrity (AHDI).

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