AAFP to CMS: 7 steps to reduce EHR burden for clinicians

The American Academy of Family Physicians penned a letter Feb. 7 to CMS Administrator Seema Verma and ONC head Don Rucker, MD, to offer recommendations to reduce clinician burdens associated with health IT.

The group cited a 2017 study published in the Annals of Family Medicine that found primary care physicians spend nearly six hours, roughly half of their workday, interacting with EHRs. The AAFP argued the high cognitive load physicians experience when working with EHRs contributes to clinician burnout and takes away time spent on direct patient care.

"The AAFP maintains that the current regulatory framework with which primary care physicians must comply is daunting and often demoralizing," the letter reads. "It is unfortunate and avoidable that the regulatory framework for physician practices has reduced face-to-face time with patients and increased operating costs at a time when physician payment is stagnant."

To address clinician burden, the AAFP developed a set of priorities to simplify administrative processes in EHRs. "We encourage CMS and ONC to adopt policies and practices consistent with these principles to alleviate unneeded regulatory burdens and to improve patient care," the letter reads.

Here are the seven priorities the AAFP listed in its letter.

1. Minimize health IT utilization measures required under the Merit-based Incentive Payment System

2. Eliminate outdated guidelines on medical record documentation, such as those for evaluation and management services

3. Focus interoperability policy on information blocking, penalizing "bad actors" and aligning financial incentives

4. Create consistent, standards-based clinical data models to promote interoperability

5. Work toward eliminating prior authorization requirements for durable medical equipment, imaging, supplies and generic drugs

6. Adopt a single set of quality measures across public and private payers

7. Decrease certification and documentation burdens that impede a physician's ability to order medical supplies and services

To access AAFP's letter, click here.

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