HHS Releases Draft Strategy on Addressing Clinician Burden Issues

HHS Releases Draft Strategy on Addressing Clinician Burden Issues

On Wednesday, November 28, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the draft Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs and asked the community to provide its ideas and recommendations on how best to address burden issues and position clinicians to provide effective care to their patients while maintaining an appropriate work-life balance.

The 21st Century Cures Act called for HHS to conduct a thorough analysis of the drivers of burden and required that the government and industry work together to reduce the burden of using health information technology (IT) and electronic health records (EHRs).

The HHS Strategy Report outlines three primary goals for reducing healthcare provider burden:

  1. Reduce the effort and time required to record information in EHRs for healthcare providers during care delivery
  2. Reduce the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals, and health care organizations
  3. Improve the functionality and intuitiveness (ease of use) of EHRs

Moreover, the Strategy Report describes sources of EHR-related burden, as well as strategies and recommendations that HHS and other stakeholders can pursue to achieve the Department’s burden reduction goals. HHS is focusing its efforts on the following criteria to ensure it is putting forth both high-impact and feasible strategies:

  • Strategies should be achievable within the near to medium term, roughly three to five year window
  • HHS should be able to either implement these strategies through existing or easily expanded authority, or should have significant ability to influence the implementation of these strategies
  • Strategies should include actions that improve the clinical documentation experience and improve patient care

The four categories of strategies identified in the report include: clinical documentation, health IT usability, EHR reporting and public health reporting.

HIMSS has been active on this topic and worked with the Association of Medical Directors of Information Systems (AMDIS) on written comments to HHS on the Patients Over Paperwork Initiative, specifically focused on our organizations’ ideas to help reduce the burdens placed on clinicians – as the time and attention clinicians spend on burden resolution is time and attention diverted from patient care.

HIMSS and AMDIS shared the belief that much of the work that clinicians face today is unnecessarily burdensome, where burden is defined as clinician activity that does not serve patient interests, does not improve quality or safety, or regardless of intent, is highly inefficient. Our organizations asked to work with HHS to eliminate these unnecessary actions that occur in the course of clinical practice. Ultimately, HIMSS and AMDIS want clinicians to be able to focus their time on actions that make sense, such as caring for patients and delivering better outcomes.

Additional key thoughts and recommendations from HIMSS and AMDIS focused on creating an environment wherein the burden on clinicians is minimized while promoting streamlined regulations, increased efficiencies, and an improved beneficiary experience.

HHS is accepting comments on the Draft Strategy Report through January 28, 2019. Stakeholders can submit their comments to the Department online.

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