The healthcare industry is struggling to give patients real-time access to their electronic medical records, which could help control costs and improve quality of care.
The 21st Century Cures Act enacted last year mandated patient access to electronic health records, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for certifying the healthcare IT vendors that make access possible. Specifically, vendors should be able to provide patients access from their computers, tablets or smart phones to information such as lab tests, medications, treatment plans and immunizations.
But fewer than one out of every 10 healthcare professionals say they have complied with the certification standards and only 41 percent say they are in the process of complying. The rest either don’t know or are still in the planning stages. (See eHealth’s Provider Perspectives on Patient Information: Results of 2017 Survey.)
Patient access to electronic health records is required for new programs designed to improve quality and reduce costs, such as the Medicare Merit-Based Incentive Payment System and “meaningful use” standards.
For employers, electronic healthcare records are essential for controlling the cost of healthcare, and, hopefully, health insurance premiums. Electronic records can increase response times by giving different healthcare providers immediate access to a patient’s history, eliminating duplicative tests and evaluations.
As the news website Healthcare Dive reported, “Providers have made no secret of their lack of readiness … In February, the American Medical Association and 55 other groups urged CMS to delay the requirements until at least January 2019 to ensure clinicians can transition smoothly to the new technology.”