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Industry Insight

Proposed Policies Encourage Shared Responsibility Between EHR Developers and Users

Developers of EHRs should create or modify their products to ensure that health care organizations can meet safety recommendations of the Safety Assurance Factors for EHR Resilience (SAFER) Guides, according to researchers with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and Baylor College of Medicine.

The paper, “Policies to Promote Shared Responsibility for Safer Electronic Health Records” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The SAFER Guides are a comprehensive compendium of safety practices organized as checklists and designed to help health care organizations and EHR developers conduct self-assessments of their EHRs. Their goal is to proactively optimize the safety and safe use of EHRs. The guides are sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) within the Department of Health and Human Services.

“Earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] published new payment rules that required all eligible hospitals to use the SAFER Guides,” says Dean Sittig, PhD, a professor of biomedical informatics at UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics and coauthor on the paper. “What this new rule didn’t do is require EHR developers to use the SAFER Guides. So, we are recommending that developers of EHR systems should annually assess their products as well. This will ensure that their customers can implement and use the EHR as recommended in the SAFER Guides.”

“We see the new CMS rules as a landmark development in EHR safety that impacts all US hospitals,” says Hardeep Singh, MD, MPH, coauthor on the paper, a professor of medicine at Baylor, and a researcher at the Center for Innovations in Quality, Effectiveness and Safety and Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center. “But for hospitals to achieve quality and safety improvements promised by state-of-the-art EHRs, we also need to engage EHR developers in implementation of safety practices.”

While the new CMS policy requiring hospitals to perform annual self-assessment using the SAFER Guides creates a solid foundation, authors say the responsibility for safety must be shared with EHR developers.

Sittig and Singh recommend three specific strategies to complement the new CMS rules. They suggest the following:

They say these strategies reinforce the robust EHR safety foundation laid by the new CMS regulations and more evenly distribute the responsibility for making safety improvements between those who design and develop the EHRs and those who configure, implement, and use these systems.

“Certain EHRs have already used the SAFER Guides to assess their products and developed guidance for their customer,” Sittig says. “The vast majority of the time, the EHR works well. No one expects the computer or use of the computer to lead to a mistake, but when it does happen, it can lead to significant patient harm. Collaborative use of SAFER Guides can prevent such problems.”

— Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston


EHR Association Announces FY22 Leadership and Priorities

The EHR Association announced the results of its annual Executive Committee elections for terms beginning July 1, 2021. The EHR Association is a trade association of nearly 30 companies that serve most of the nation’s hospitals and ambulatory care organizations using EHRs and other health information and technology to deliver high-quality, efficient care to their patients.

Hans Buitendijk, director of interoperability strategy with the Cerner Corporation, continues as chair of the Executive Committee, which establishes the EHR Association’s guiding principles and develops and implements strategic plans. David Bucciferro, senior advisor at Foothold Technology, returns as vice chair.

Newly elected to the EHRA Executive Committee for Fiscal Year 2022 are the following:

Continuing members of the EHRA Executive Committee are the following:

Serving as ex-officio members of the Executive Committee are past chairs Leigh Burchell, vice president of government affairs and public policy at Allscripts, and Sasha TerMaat, director at Epic.

As the HIT landscape evolves, so too does the focus of the EHR Association, as evidenced by the work underway within its eight standing workgroups and four task forces. For example, the EHR Association will continue its focus on the 21st Century Cures Act, with an emphasis on clarifying and implementing the interoperability, certification, and information-blocking sections based on the final rule issued by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). That focus extends to ONC’s United States Core Data for Interoperability (USCDI) standards for interoperability of electronic health information (EHI) and other non-EHI priority data classes, work that is currently underway in the EHRA EHI Task Force.

“In addition to proactively engaging with ONC on expanding USCDI standards to encompass EHI and non-EHI data classes, both of which are essential for interoperability, the EHRA EHI Task Force has embarked on a collaboration with AHIMA and AMIA to develop a consensus on recommendations on how best to translate policy concepts related to the designated record set and EHR definitions into technical guidance for operationalization in an electronic environment,” Buitendijk says. “The success of their work will ultimately be measured by the ability and willingness of providers and HIM and health IT professionals alike to incorporate its outcomes into their own definitions driving consistent and transparent data sharing and exchange.”

The shifting landscape is also evident in the EHR Association’s plans for the COVID-19 Task Force, which was originally formed last year to focus on vaccine and other reporting requirements, as well as gathering and sharing guidance from industry experts and government officials on the global pandemic. In the coming year, it will be repositioned to address broader public health needs.

“As the world inches closer to postpandemic normalcy, health care is looking inward to determine how best to prepare for future public health crises. An important part of this is understanding where the industry succeeded and fell short in our pandemic response and identifying the broader role health IT can play in public health,” Bucciferro says. “COVID-19 Task Force members dedicated significant time and resources to identifying the role EHRs and other technology should play in supporting providers and public health professionals in their pandemic response. Now, it’s time to take those lessons and integrate them into a broader focus as the Public Health Task Force.”

— Source: EHR Association


AHIMA Presents 2021 AHIMA Triumph Awards

AHIMA recognized recipients of the 2021 AHIMA Triumph Awards at the AHIMA21 Virtual Conference. The AHIMA Triumph Awards are national awards designed to recognize individuals who have made a difference in the health information profession. The AHIMA Triumph Awards are sponsored by 3M.

“It’s always fascinating to learn about the winners of the AHIMA Triumph Awards, as they contribute significantly to our profession, no matter where they are in their careers,” says AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “I congratulate the recipients and nominees and thank them for their service to the profession.”

Distinguished Member Award: Melinda A. Wilkins, PhD, RHIA, FAHIMA, was named Distinguished Member, AHIMA’s highest honor. Wilkins is currently the program director at Arkansas Tech University’s graduate program in health informatics and its undergraduate program in HIM. A former member of the AHIMA Board of Directors, she has dedicated more than three decades to educating health information professionals, and her contributions to textbooks are used today in health information curriculums across the country.

Educator Award: AHIMA presented the 2021 Educator Triumph Award to Judy Monestime, DBA, MBA, RHIA, CHDA, CPHI, CDIP, CPC-I, CPC, an instructor in the department of management programs at Florida Atlantic University. Monestime is active in the industry, as she presents at conferences and has been published in peer-reviewed journals. She is recognized throughout the industry for her passion for health information education.

Innovation Award: The Innovation Award honors those individuals, groups, or organizations focused on moving health information into the future of the health care and wellness industry. AHIMA presented this award to Varadraj “Raj” Prabhu Gurupur, PhD, an associate professor in the department of health management and informatics at the University of Central Florida. Gurupur is an expert at designing algorithms and methodologies that aid in the design and implementation of decision support systems with a focus on health care. His work aims to lead to the development of solutions that can improve data incompleteness in patient records.

Leadership Award: Ann Nowlin, RHIT, received the 2021 AHIMA Leadership Triumph Award. Nowlin is the president of AMN, LLC, and serves as the central office coordinator for six component state HIM associations. Her commitment to the profession and AHIMA’s mission is strong and she plays a key role in ensuring a positive experience for members, whether it’s online or in person.

Mentor Award: Shannon H. Houser, PhD, MPH, RHIA, FAHIMA, received the 2021 Mentor Award. Houser is a professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and as an educator, she has displayed exemplary mentorship by guiding health information professionals, fellow educators, and students toward new opportunities, particularly in health information research.

Rising Star Award: Phillip Duong, MS, RHIA, CCA, is this year’s Rising Star Award recipient. Duong works at Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando and holds leadership roles in three health information associations. Advocacy and public policy are passions for Duong, and he has volunteered at the Florida Health Information Management Association’s Hill Day events in 2018 and 2019. He prioritizes using social media to engage with peers about health information.

Student Award: AHIMA proudly presented the 2021 AHIMA Student Triumph Award to Joan Rodríguez González, who earned a master’s degree in HIM while working full-time and volunteering at the University of Puerto Rico and with the Puerto Rico Health Information Management Association. During the pandemic, he volunteered to help manage COVID-19 immunization records at the university’s Medical Sciences Campus.

— Source: AHIMA


AGS Health Acquires EZDI

AGS Health, a leader in revenue cycle management solutions for major health care providers across the United States, has acquired EZDI—a leader in modernizing computer-assisted coding to support health care providers with revenue cycle management (RCM).

“Advancements in technology are helping health systems improve efficiencies, control costs, and deliver better patient experiences,” says AGS Health CEO Patrice Wolfe. “EZDI’s technology assists clinical staff by predicting appropriate medical codes and identifying missed documentation, which makes for a more efficient process and better outcomes.”

“This is an exciting time for both of our organizations,” says Chetan Parikh, CEO at EZDI. “AGS brings coding services to EZDI customers and enables them to make computer-assisted coding actionable. We’re offering measurable RCM improvement through automation.”

Established in 2014, EZDI offers an integrated, artificial intelligence–based platform that combines clinical documentation improvement, computer-assisted coding, and auditing into a single platform.

“By minimizing human touch points and instead using people to validate system-generated data, we can help our customers greatly reduce the margin of error,” Wolfe says. “Driving the best possible outcomes for our clients remains our goal, and investments in technology advancements are critical to making that happen.”

— Source: AGS Health