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Alliance to push to make EHRs easier to use

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The Obama administration has announced that  tech companies, hospital systems and physician groups have agreed to act to make electronic health records (EHRs) easier for consumers to  use.

EHRs systems often don’t talk to each other, limiting their usefulness to patients, especially those with complex health problems.

“Now is the time for this data to be free and liquid and available,” said Karen DeSalvo, head of the  Department of Health and Human Services  office overseeing the transition to computerized medical records from paper ones.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune noted that “Taxpayers have ponied up about $27 billion in subsidies to encourage the adoption of electronic medical records by hospitals and doctors’ offices. But the results so far have fallen short of the data-driven transformation that proponents envisioned. With new personal health applications for mobile devices hitting the market, there’s a renewed push to clear obstacles rooted in different technologies and clashing competitive priorities among vendors and healthcare providers.”

Those in the agreement said they’d work to:

  • Improve consumer access. “Theoretically, patients would be able to easily access their records from one provider and transfer them to another. That second provider would be able to seamlessly import the earlier records into its system,” the Star Tribune reported.
  • Stop blocking health-information sharing. “A report last year  found that some healthcare organizations were blocking the sharing of information outside their group.”  But “some experts say that’s already changing with greater use of something called ‘direct exchange,’ a secure messaging pathway between registered medical providers,” the paper reported.
  • Put standards for secure, efficient digital communications into effect.


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