The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' 2015 provider payment rules, many of which have been released this month, are receiving a lot of attention. But I'm surprised that one of the most consistent themes throughout them--"EHR creep"--has received very little publicity.
I fear the security of patient information in electronic health records has gone from bad to worse. First we learn that more people are withholding information from their providers who use EHRs because they fear the systems won't keep their information confidential. Now we learn that they're right.
I hope I'm not the only person who finds the results of a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association on patient perceptions of electronic health record users troubling.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's proposed rule offering some flexibility for attesting to Meaningful Use in 2014 may be one of the few occasions where a rule relating to the program has been met with open arms. But deeper dive reveals a detail that I find particularly interesting: the Medical Group Management Association's suggestion that CMS has overstepped its regulatory authority in Stage 2.
Why is there disconnect between laboratories and electronic health records?
It turns out that the providers may have been right all along: Simply using an EHR does not lead to fraudulent billing.
The lack of interoperability among electronic health records, no doubt, is a major impediment to improved healthcare and lower costs. But now we have a much more granular understanding of why the industry is having so much trouble achieving it.
Providers have been lashing out against subpar electronic health record design for years. They gripe that not only do poorly designed systems impede workflow and cost too much, they also create new patient safety problems and don't share data with other systems to coordinate care, as promised. Still, the industry hasn't done much to address these concerns.
However, maybe now they'll have to. New evidence released this week bolsters what the providers have been saying all along: EHRs, as currently designed, adversely impact patient safety.
It's really not surprising that 83 percent of healthcare organizations are using the cloud to store electronic health record information or other data, as reported this week by HIMSS Analytics. As their new survey points out, hospitals and other providers using cloud EHR vendors have lower maintenance costs, faster deployment and fewer internal IT staffing needs. Moreover, HIMSS Analytics reports that even more providers will flock to the cloud, and those already using it will expand that use.
It's like BlackBerry vs. iPhone or, for those who remember, Beta vs. VHS. If one technology overshadows the other, the lesser one becomes outdated and less popular and will eventually be put out to pasture.
It's certainly not unusual for members of Congress to question whether an agency is overstepping its bounds. Just last week, several members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee questioned the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's authority to regulate health IT after the Meaningful Use program ends, as well as the extent to which it can regulate health IT at all for non-Meaningful Use initiatives.