HHS to track EHR use among office-based physicians

HHS is launching an effort to measure health information technology adoption and use among office-based physicians, the department said Tuesday. The initiative will gather national-level data on office-based physicians’ use of health IT systems, including their experiences with interoperability and administrative burden. HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health […]

HHS is launching an effort to measure health information technology adoption and use among office-based physicians, the department said Tuesday.

The initiative will gather national-level data on office-based physicians’ use of health IT systems, including their experiences with interoperability and administrative burden. HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology plans to use the program’s findings to inform future policy decisions.

An estimated 80% of office-based physicians use a certified electronic health record system, but just one in 10 are able to electronically send and receive patient information to and from EHRs outside their network, according to data collected in 2017, the most recent data ONC has available. Roughly 96% of hospitals, by contrast, have adopted certified EHRs.

Data from the new initiative could help identify disparities in health IT use and unintended consequences arising from federal health IT policies, according to ONC.

ONC awarded a three-year cooperative agreement to the American Board of Family Medicine to measure and gather data as part of the program.

The American Board of Family Medicine will receive $290,000 in funding for the first year, according to a notice of funding opportunity for the program that ONC issued in August.

Funds for the second and third years will be subject to funding availability and the group’s progress on the program.

For its role, the American Board of Family Medicine will develop measures to study health IT use, health data interoperability and associated administrative burden, which it will use to collect data from a nationally representative sample of office-based physicians. The American Board of Family Medicine will also work with ONC on analyzing and interpreting the survey results.

The initiative is the latest move HHS has made to tackle interoperability and administrative burden, both of which have been key priorities of the Trump administration.

ONC and CMS in March released final versions of their companion information-blocking and interoperability regulations, which the agencies in April said they would delay enforcement of on account of the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS in June created a new office, dubbed the Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics, to centralize its efforts focused on reducing administrative burden.

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