CMS Administrator Seema Verma: Despite billions spent, EHRs haven't delivered on interoperability

CMS Administrator Seema Verma spoke about the limitations EHRs present to patient data interoperability during a July 30 speech she made at the White House Blue Button Developers Conference.

Ms. Verma highlighted the launch of CMS' new pilot the Data at the Point of Care program, which is part of the MyHealthEData Administration-wide initiative spearheaded by the White House's Office of American Innovation. The pilot program is based on an industry-standard application programming interface that allows providers to access patients' claims data, such as diagnoses, past procedures and medication lists.

"Currently, the lack of patient access to price and quality information — and their [EHR] data—is a lost opportunity to keep our nation healthier and to drive down costs," Ms. Verma said. "The government spent more than $36 billion to encourage the adoption of [EHRs], but failed to make sure that the systems could actually talk to each other.  We're now left with a healthcare industry that still uses fax machines."

As a result of EHR shortfalls, clinicians are "beyond frustrated," Ms. Verma said. EHRs need to either be improved so that patients and providers can easily and efficiently access data, or vendors need to open their systems and collaborate with third-party developers to get data in the hands of patients and providers.

"In an era of rising healthcare costs we need technological innovation to help us create a more efficient system," Ms. Verma said. "And if EHR developers cannot keep pace with the rest of the healthcare system, they are holding us back from the next generation of innovation and they must create open systems that allow others to innovate."

More articles on EHRs:
EHR snooping: Best efforts to bust, punish and prevent it
Kettering Health Network to streamline EMS data exchange with real-time notification system
UCI Health to integrate mobile patient navigation app with Epic

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