HHS issues strategy to reduce documentation burden

Feb. 25, 2020

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on February 21 issued a strategy to reduce the documentation and regulatory reporting requirements on providers related to entering information into electronic health records (EHRs).

The report, which also focuses on improving the usability of EHRS, describes examples of EHR-related burden, as well as strategies and recommendations that HHS and other stakeholders can use to help reduce clinicians’ paperwork burden, allowing them to focus more attention on patients.

The development of the report, required under the 21st Century Cures Act, was led by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) in conjunction with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 

HHS released an initial draft of the report in November 2018, based on feedback from a variety of health IT stakeholders—from practicing clinicians to health IT developers.

The final report includes additional input from the more than 200 comments submitted in response to the recommendations in the draft report.

"The strategy we are releasing takes a hard look at ways that the federal government and stakeholders can work together to reduce the administrative and technological burdens experienced by healthcare providers," said Don Rucker, MD, national coordinator for health IT. "Patients will benefit from these efforts because their physicians will spend more time focused on them instead of their keyboards." 

Specifically, ONC and CMS looked at four key areas and offered strategies to address:

·      Clinical documentation

·       Health IT usability (or ease of use of health IT tools and systems)

·       Federal health IT and EHR reporting requirements

·       Public health reporting (including coordination with prescription drug reporting programs and electronic prescribing of controlled substances).

While different types of administrative burden can affect different healthcare providers, the report focused on people and institutions directly involved in the delivery of patient care. These roles may include physicians, nurses and other clinical staff; practice managers and other administrators immediately engaged in the management of care delivery; and care delivery institutions, such as hospitals.

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