Senate panel to look into EHR usability

'After $28 billion in taxpayer dollars spent subsidizing electronic health records, ‎doctors don't like these electronic medical record systems.'
By Bernie Monegain
09:40 AM
Sen. Lamar Alexander

Unhappy with the state of electronic health records across the country two U.S. Senators have decided to take the matter into their own hands.

Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee and chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pension, or HELP, and Ranking Member Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington State, announced Wednesday they would form a bipartisan, full health committee working group to identify ways to improve electronic health records.

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"After $28 billion in taxpayer dollars spent subsidizing electronic health records, ‎doctors don't like these electronic medical record systems and say they disrupt workflow, interrupt the doctor-patient relationship and haven't been worth the effort," said Alexander in a news statement. "The goal of this working group is to identify the five or six things we can do to help make the failed promise of electronic health records something that physicians and providers look forward to instead of something they endure."

"As we focus on making our healthcare system work better for families, electronic health records could not be more important," Murray added. "Having more and better information can make all the difference for patients."

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The goals of the committee's working group, as stated by Alexander and Murray, are to help identify ways Congress and the administration can work together to:

  • Help doctors and hospitals improve quality of care and patient safety;
  • Facilitate information exchange between different electronic record vendors and different health professionals, or interoperability;
  • Empower patients to engage in their own healthcare through convenient, user-friendly access to their personal health information;
  • Leverage health information technology capabilities to improve patient safety; and
  • Protect patient privacy and security of health information.

The bipartisan staff meetings will involve participation from health professionals, health information technology developers, relevant government agencies and other experts specializing in health information technology, Alexander said. Participation is open to all members of the Senate's health committee.

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