The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT was established in 2004 by executive action. In 2009, Congress authorized the Meaningful Use (MU) program, which offered financial incentives for adopting electronic health records (EHR) and other information technology (IT) tools. Although adoption has progressed, there are many unresolved issues. In preparation for an event sponsored by the Engelberg Center for Health Care Reform that addressed health IT, scholars at the Brookings Institute summarized 4 key challenges faced by many healthcare professionals
as they work in an environment that is increasingly concerned with
The authors described these key challenges:
- Uniformity of requirements: The uniform approach cannot always be applied given the diversity of medical specialties
- Specific, process-driven measures: MU-certified commercial EHRs limit usability by focusing on designs that meet MU requirements instead of those that would meet users needs
- Failure to prioritize access to accurate, actionable information related to coverage and payment: Current MU functions do not provide broad access to needed information; this lack may result in extra costs or treatments that are delayed or denied
- Gaps in practical and effective interoperability: Health plans, insurance companies, and employers often require duplicate documentation because they do not accept information in the standard EHR interoperability formats. Refocusing on practical interoperability, including an emphasis on relevant payment-related information could improve usefulness
A video of the Engelberg Center program Can Forces Align to Use Health IT to Improve Care and Lower Costs? is available online at www.brookings.edu/events/2015/03/04-health-it-value-based-payment-reform. Basch P, et al. Brookings website. March 3, 2015.