Director of Interoperability at Epic Says We Need More Lawyers


On Tuesday, the Senate held a hearing to address the state of EHRs, as part of a series to update the legislation of the 2009 HITECH Act. Despite the development of EHR systems, their effectiveness is limited due to their inability to communicate with each other and achieve interoperability.

The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT issued a 10-year roadmap to address issues with medical records. Nonetheless, the hearing on Tuesday proved that fully interoperable records systems are far from reality. Approximately 48% of physicians and 59% of hospitals have implemented EHR systems.

The authors of a report published by the Brookings Institution suggest that lawmakers should adjust the meaningful use program and reporting requirements to focus on "outcome-oriented performance measures." They also advise increasing efforts to set standards for reporting patient information directly through EHRs.

Peter DeVault, director of interoperability at EpicSystems, claims that the inability of systems to communicate with each other is due to the lack of a strong legal framework. He also expressed concerns over the EHR systems requiring providers to log immaterial information that does not improve patient care. The amount of time providers must spend on EHR systems, detracts from the ability of staff to focus on the patient's care. Furthermore, the time spent on clinical, billing and regulatory requirements, compromises the quality of the data in the EHR system.

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