AAOS October 3, 2017
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Legislation Introduced to Address EHRs, HIT

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Legislation Introduced to Address EHRs, HIT

Earlier this summer, Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Pat Tiberi (R-OH), and Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced legislation focused on reducing the volume of future electronic health record-related significant hardship requests by eliminating language that requires increasingly stringent measures of meaningful use over time. AAOS recently sent a letter of support to Burgess addressing important issues related to EHRs and health information technology (HIT).

“Electronic health records place an enormous burden on physicians, and have failed to live up to their promise to improve health care delivery for patients. Unfortunately, current law places an arbitrary requirement on the Secretary of Health and Human Services to impose an increasingly stringent burden on physicians’ use of these records systems,” said Congressman Burgess. “This bipartisan legislation provides a common-sense solution for a burden that negatively impacts both patients and providers, resulting in better care.”

“The AAOS believes that HIT is a fundamental component to improving our nation’s health care system and has been working to increase EHR adoption and Meaningful Use (MU) certification among its members,” AAOS stated in a letter. “Unfortunately, the current HIT infrastructure does not provide for efficient electronic exchange of patient information and the MU program has very ambitious and prescriptive timetables, both of which hinder, instead of aid, physicians’ abilities to provide care to their patients.”

H.R. 3120 would address this issue by amending the MU program to remove the requirement for the Secretary to create more stringent measures over time. The AAOS supports these proposed changes, which would provide more flexibility and could decrease the number of hardship exemption requests. Additionally, the AAOS would support any changes to the MU program that would ensure interoperability and efficient exchange of patient information so that the physician-patient relationship may be preserved.

“This legislation represents a commonsense step to ease burdens on medical providers and improve patient care,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “It will allow HHS to continue to improve the use of electronic medical records, which can save time, improve accuracy and lead to better patient outcomes, without placing an undue burden on those who deliver care.”

AAOS continues to engage with Congress on this issue, noting that the potential benefits of EHR adoption are vast, but the cost of implementation - among other issues - may be prohibitive to many practices. In addition to the September letter, AAOS has relayed this position in other letters to the government regarding the implementation of the MU program, stressing the need for implementation that is practical and flexible enough for physicians and their patients. For more on AAOS efforts, visit https://www.aaos.org/Advocacy/HIT/.

H.R. 3120 was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, as well as the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, for consideration. Read more about the bill here.