Tom Price, Seema Verma, and EHRs: What’s to Come?

The November 2016 election of Donald Trump has continued to shake up the health care landscape, from the President’s repeated promises to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act to, of course, new leadership at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Earlier this month, former Congressman Tom Price (R-GA), a physician, was confirmed as HHS Secretary; to head CMS, Trump has nominated health care consultant Seema Verma. Among the many questions those in the health care community may have for Price and Verma: Where do the two stand on health IT and on matters relating to electronic health records (EHRs)?

According to The Health Care Blog’s Paul Keckley, both have shown a deep skepticism about Meaningful Use and the burden that it may place on certain providers: “In their confirmation testimony, both Verma and Price were particularly deferential to the plight of physicians, explicitly associating the profession’s challenges with laws and regulations that frustrate clinicians and compromise patient care,” he explains. More specifically, Verma, who has yet to receive Senate confirmation, has taken a particularly strong stance. During her confirmation hearing before the Senate Budget Committee, Keckley notes, she “challenged the value of electronic health records especially in small practices and rural settings and likened interoperability to a bridge too far.”

Studies have indeed shown that administrative burdens take their toll on physicians; a recent Nerdwallet study, for example, found that “28 percent of physicians saw their income shrink last year as a result of increasing administrative costs in their practices.” However, the number of providers nationwide who have made the switch to electronic records has continued to grow over the past decade, and most patients approve: “The majority want access to their own medical record and think clinicians who are accessible online are more current in their training and expertise,” Keckley explains, citing the results of a 2015 study. “They recognize that electronic medical records are useful in improving care coordination, diagnostic accuracy and error avoidance.” For his part, Keckley believes that, whatever happens as Price and Verma begin their work at HHS, they will be making an effort to attend to the needs of physicians: “It’s clear the role physicians will play in the post Affordable Care Act era will be a prominent theme under their leadership,” he notes.

Click here for the article from Healthcare Blog.

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