ACP Seeks to Ensure Recent Health Information Technology Changes Benefit All

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Representatives are making the rounds at key conferences in the health IT field to make sure internists' concerns are heard

April 16, 2021 (ACP) – The American College of Physicians is stepping up efforts to ensure that recent health information technology changes meet their intended goals: improve health information exchange, reduce administrative burden and improve patient care without worsening existing health care disparities.

Recent health information technology actions include the implementation of regulations prohibiting information blocking designed to give patients access to their health information on smartphones and other devices plus reduced documentation requirements when using evaluation and management (E/M) codes.

The COVID-19 pandemic, however, has highlighted a growing and worsening digital divide that must be bridged to achieve health equity and make sure that all patients and physicians can take advantage of these changes.

“Change is happening,” said Brooke Rockwern, ACP senior associate of health IT policy. “We are trying to make sure that these changes aren't going to be burdensome for physicians, help our members implement them as best they can and provide guidance on what should be improved.”

To make sure that internists' concerns are heard and considered, ACP members are making the rounds at recent and upcoming conferences. In March, Dr. Darilyn V. Moyer, ACP executive vice president and chief executive officer, spoke at the Health IT Leadership Roundtable, a meeting that brought together key stakeholders to help build a consensus on patient access to data with COVID-19 and the digital divide in mind. Many rural and low-income communities around the world do not have reliable or affordable internet access, which means they may not benefit from these advancements, which could further existing health care disparities.

“The big message that Dr. Moyer conveyed is that technology must meet patients where they are and that health equity must be taken into account with all technological advances,” Rockwern said.

ACP also co-hosted a Usability Summit with the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) to help guide clinicians and EHR vendors on best practices that keep pace with recent changes to E/M codes and reduced documentation requirements.

“Now there is an opportunity for EHR vendors to change their systems to be more usable and restore the patient narrative as opposed to relying on burdensome templates used to comply with previous billing requirements,” Rockwern said. “We are helping to reimagine EHRs and are having next-step conversations on how to make changes that make the data entry process smoother and also improve patient care and experience.” The goal is to develop a set of best practices for clinicians and EHR vendors, she said.

Rockwern is slated to speak at the upcoming Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) meeting, being held virtually on April 28. Here, she will be part of a panel that seeks to demystify some of the new information-blocking exceptions. The information-blocking regulations were implemented on April 5, 2021. Exceptions to the rule fall into two broad categories: those that involve not fulfilling requests due to the nature of the request and those that involve procedures for fulfilling requests. The WEDI panel's Q-and-A format will allow attendees to ask questions about the various exceptions and how to document them and avoid a potential costly audit.

More Information

Interested members can register for the WEDI meeting on the WEDI website.

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Back to the April 16, 2021 issue of ACP Advocate