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Senators Form EHR Improvement Workgroup

April 29, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Lest people think Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) were not serious in their stated efforts to improve EHR usability, the two have started a workgroup aiming to do just that.
 
Alexander, Chairman of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and Murray, its Ranking Member, announced the creation of a bipartisan committee workgroup to identify ways to improve EHRs. Alexander made this issue well known recently when he asked Health and Human Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to commit to bettering EHRs at a Senate hearing. Alexander, Murray and other members of the HELP Committee held a hearing this past year on EHRs and the meaningful use program, where the idea of a workgroup was first floated.
 
The health committee will recruit members of the Senate health committee as well as healthcare professionals, health IT developers, relevant government agencies, and other experts in the industry to participate. Without getting into specifics, the two say the group will aimsto improve EHR usability, systems interoperability, patient empowerment and access, and patient safety and privacy.  
 
“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,” Alexander said in a 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.”
 
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