GAO takes HHS to task for poor planning on EHRs for long-term care

The Government Accountability Office determined in an investigation that Health and Human Services has not measured whether its efforts are working and lacks a comprehensive plan for doing so.
By Bernie Monegain
12:22 PM

The Government Accountability Office is urging the Department of Health and Human Services to step up its efforts to encourage the use of EHRs in long-term care facilities, the better to boost the exchange of critical information between care providers.

HHS has not measured the effectiveness of its efforts to promote the use of EHRs, and it also lacks a comprehensive plan to meet its goal of increasing the proportion of post-acute care providers who are electronically exchanging health information, GAO found. Moreover, the lack of measurement of the effectiveness of its efforts “is contrary to leading principles of sound planning.” The GAO concluded.

“Many patients who leave hospitals receive care in post-acute settings such as skilled nursing facilities and long-term care hospitals,” GAO noted in its report dated January 2017. “Exchange of accurate and timely health information is particularly important in these transitions, and technology like EHRs could help to improve quality and reduce costs.”

The government watchdog recommended HHS evaluate its efforts to increase the use of EHRs and data exchange and to adopt a “comprehensively plan” for how to reach its goals in post-acute care settings.

GAO interviewed stakeholders, including experts on EHRs in post-acute care settings, and found five key factors that affect EHR use and the electronic exchange of health information in these settings: Cost, the variability in implementation of health data standards, workflow disruptions that come from EHR rollouts; technological challenges and lack of staff with the expertise to use EHRs, along with high staff turnover. 

Twitter: @Bernie_HITN
Email the writer: bernie.monegain@himssmedia.com


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