Alexander Says New HHS Rules Should Improve Electronic Health Records To Give Patients Better Outcomes, Better Experiences At A Lower Cost

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander today said, “Having electronic health records that talk to one another – we call that interoperability – is one way to reduce what we spend on administrative tasks and unnecessary care.
 
“In 1991, the National Academy of Medicine released a report urging the ‘prompt development and implementation’ of what were then called computer-based patient records. Electronic health records got a boost in 2009 when the federal government began the Meaningful Use program, spending over $36 billion in grants to incentivize doctors and hospitals to use these systems.
The hope was electronic records would improve patient care and reduce unnecessary health care spending. But in 2015 – six years after the Meaningful Use program started and as the 1991 report predicted – we realized that, in many cases, electronic health records added to administrative burden and increased unnecessary health care spending. So, in 2015, this committee held six bipartisan hearings and formed a working group to find ways to fix the interoperability of electronic health records.”
 
Chairman Alexander made his remarks today at a Senate health committee hearing on implementation of the electronic health information provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act. In the Cures Act, Congress took steps to help improve the exchange of electronic health information. Last month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released two rules to define information blocking—so it is clear when one system is purposefully not sharing information with another—and to give patients more control over their records and providers more information so they can better treat their patients.
 
“According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, these two new rules should give more than 125 million patients easier access to their own records in an electronic format,” Senator Alexander continued. “This will be a huge relief to any of us who have spent hours tracking down paper copies of our records and carting them back and forth to different doctors’ offices. The rules will reduce administrative burden on doctors so they can spend more time with patients.   A recent study from Kaiser found that emergency room doctors, in order to use electronic health records systems, make up to 4,000 mouse clicks per shift.  According to HHS, spending less time on these administrative tasks will improve efficiency and therefore could save $3.3 billion a year.”
 
Senator Alexander told the story of Reid Blackwelder, a family physician with three clinics in the Tri-Cities area of East Tennessee: “A few years ago, Dr. Blackwelder talked to the New York Times about the electronic health records that were supposed to make his life easier, saying, ‘We have electronic records at our clinic, but the hospital, which I can see from my window, has a separate system from a different vendor. The two don’t communicate. When I admit patients to the hospital, I have to print out my notes and send a copy to the hospital so they can be incorporated into the hospital’s electronic records.’ Dr. Blackwelder could pay for his patients’ hospital records to be electronically sent from his system to the hospital’s system– but it would cost him $26,400 every month – or $316,800 a year. For Dr. Blackwelder, and so many other doctors, record keeping is now more expensive and burdensome.”
 
The Senate health committee had six hearings in 2015 to explore ways to get our nation’s system of health information technology out of a ditch and make it useful for doctors and patients. The committee then authored the 21st Century Cures Act which directed HHS to make proposals to improve electronic health records.
 
You can read Alexander’s full prepared remarks here.

Sandra Huggins, MSN, FNP-BC, Joins CHI Memorial Convenient Care - Signal Mountain

BREATHE. EASY. Mobile Lung CT Coach To Visit Hamilton County Feb. 20, 24

Cempa Community Care Receives Federally Qualified Health Center Designation


CHI Memorial Convenient Care – Signal Mountain announces Sandra Huggins, MSN, FNP-BC, to its staff. Ms. Huggins received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga ... (click for more)

CHI Memorial’s mobile lung CT coach will visit the CHI Memorial Guerry Heart and Vascular Center, 2601 Robbins St., Entrance A in Chattanooga, on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and on Monday, ... (click for more)

Cempa Community Care has achieved the designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center Look-Alike, awarded by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This designation ... (click for more)


Living Well

Sandra Huggins, MSN, FNP-BC, Joins CHI Memorial Convenient Care - Signal Mountain

CHI Memorial Convenient Care – Signal Mountain announces Sandra Huggins, MSN, FNP-BC, to its staff. Ms. Huggins received her bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and her master’s in nursing from Southern Adventist University in Collegedale. She is board certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. Ms. Huggins has previously worked ... (click for more)

BREATHE. EASY. Mobile Lung CT Coach To Visit Hamilton County Feb. 20, 24

CHI Memorial’s mobile lung CT coach will visit the CHI Memorial Guerry Heart and Vascular Center, 2601 Robbins St., Entrance A in Chattanooga, on Thursday, Feb. 20 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and on Monday, Feb. 24 from 7 a.m.-2 p.m. "Lung cancer screening is a test to look for signs of lung cancer in otherwise healthy people," officials said. "The low-dose CT scan shows a 3-D image ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Chattanooga Man, 31, Killed In Head-On Crash Near Elizabethton; His Vehicle Was Struck By Man Fleeing Police

A Chattanooga man who was hit head-on by a vehicle being chased by police near Elizabethton, Tn., was killed in the crash late Sunday morning. He was identified as Thomas Taylor, 31. He was driving a BMW north on U.S. Highway 19E when his vehicle was struck by a Lincoln Towncar going the wrong way at a high rate of speed. Two other people were injured in the collision at Gap ... (click for more)

Fishermen Spot Body In Ocoee River

Two fishermen spotted a body in the Ocoee River on Sunday. Polk County Sheriff's deputies were then able to retrieve a man's body around noon. It was located about 100 yards west of Big River Access. The body was sent to Knoxville for an autopsy and to seek identification. (click for more)

Opinion

Celebrate President's Day By Remembering The Wisdom Of Our Founding Fathers - And Response

Monday, Feb. 17, is President’s Day. The holiday was originally designed to honor our first president, George Washington, and was celebrated on his birthday, Feb. 12. In an effort to give the public more leisure time, in 1971, President Richard Nixon officially designated certain federal holidays to be celebrated on Mondays. This included President Washington’s. Since it no longer ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Believe In Harbingers?

A harbinger, we have been taught, is “something that foreshadows a future event,” or “something that gives an anticipatory sign of what is to come.” Last week in Connecticut, the families of three high school athletes – all female – filed a lawsuit against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. The lawsuit claims a current CIAC policy is a violation of the federal ... (click for more)