Task Force Offers Recommendations for EHR Challenges

Despite fast adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) over the past 5 years, many clinicians have voiced concerns about the unintended clinical consequences of EHR use, such as reduced time for patient-clinician interactions, burdensome data entry tasks for front-line clinicians, and interoperability troubles.

Despite fast adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) over the past 5 years, many clinicians have voiced concerns about the unintended clinical consequences of EHR use, such as reduced time for patient-clinician interactions, burdensome data entry tasks for front-line clinicians, and interoperability troubles.

In response to these challenges, the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA) created the multidisciplinary EHR 2020 Task Force to develop recommendations. The Report of the AMIA EHR 2020 Task Force on the Status and Future Direction of EHRs focuses on near-term strategies to address current EHR challenges.

“Health information technology is a key part of enhancing health and healthcare, and empowering patients to be first-order participants in their care,” AMIA President and Chief Executive Officer Douglas B. Fridsma, MD, said in a statement. “As part of this report, we listened to our members who work closely with EHRs to understand the current challenges. We think these recommendations will improve the value that EHRs will provide to patients, and set the stage for more significant benefit in the future.”

Despite the unintended consequences of EHRs, the technology can be used to optimize both safety and efficiency, which was the goal of the Task Force. Thomas H. Payne, MD, chair of the Task Force, and colleagues wrote that the report also focused on the issues of greatest concern today and on directions for the next 5 years.

The Task Force identified 10 recommendations in 5 areas: simplify and speed documentation; refocus regulation; increase transparency and streamline certification; foster innovation; increase transparency and streamline certification. The full recommendations have been published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

“The problems we face today in EHR use are complex and solutions will not be simple or quick. Solving these problems will require regulatory stability, the development of an acceptable threshold ‘barrier to entry’ into the EHR marketplace, and a supportive national policy.”

However, AMIA remains positive about EHRs and notes that the current issues can be solved.