HHS Announces Plan to Improve EHR Information Flow

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) announced an initiative to make electronic health records (EHRs) more easily accessible and useful for patients. Sixteen health technology companies that provide 90 percent of EHRs used in hospitals nationwide have pledged to participate in three key commitments outlined by the HHS:

  • Improve consumer access by helping them easily and securely access their medical information and direct it to any desired location
  • End information blocking by helping providers share individuals’ health information for care, when permitted by law
  • Implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for EHRs and adopt best practices with regard to privacy and security

While most hospitals and physician’s offices have moved toward using EHRs, the ability to share patient information between systems is limited, and EHRs are often underused and difficult to access. Increasing access and usability will bolster a major health database and help propel precision medicine efforts forward, according to an HHS press release.

“Technology isn’t just one leg of our strategy to build a better health-care system for our nation, it supports the entire effort,” Sylvia M. Burwell, secretary of HHS, said. “We are working to unlock health-care data and information so that providers are better informed and patients and families can access their health-care information, making them empowered, active participants in their own care.”

In addition to the technology developers, hospital systems, insurers, and major medical organizations are participating in this overhaul.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services press release, February 29, 2016.