On 21 February, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in partnership with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) released a strategy that aims to reduce the burdens associated with the use of healthcare information technology (IT) for healthcare providers.

The strategy has three primary goals:

  • Reduce the effort required to record health information
  • Reduce the effort required to meet reporting regulations
  • Improve the ease-of-use of electronic health records (EHRs)

On 4 February, researchers at Cerner Corporation performed a study that examined the time physicians spend consulting and documenting EHRs per patient visit. The study found that approximately 16 minutes of physician time was spent per patient visit in the outpatient setting on average. Of the time spent on EHRs, physicians were found to spend an average of 33% reviewing records, 24% documenting and 17% ordering. This time commitment represents a significant time bottleneck for physicians. If this time spent on EHRs was reduced, it could instead be allocated directly to patient care.

When it comes to clinical documentation, the HHS is looking to reduce regulatory burdens on physicians, partner with stakeholders to facilitate the adoption of best practices and better leverage health IT to prevent and reduce redocumentation.

The second focus of the HHS strategy revolves around health IT usability through making improvements in clinical workflow and optimising end-user interfaces. The third focus of the HHS is optimising EHR reporting requirements through simplifying program requirements for reporting and reducing administrative burdens.

The strategy involves streamlining public health reporting requirements through standardising data collection and improving provider workflow. If these strategies are implemented effectively, the US healthcare system could greatly reduce its administrative overhead and increase its patient care capabilities.