AMA House of Delegates

AMA meeting: Guidance offered on effective EHR use

Physicians respond to worries that technology may be interfering with patient communication and is a barrier to sharing information with other facilities.

By Sue Ter Maat — Posted July 1, 2013

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The American Medical Association House of Delegates has approved a policy that’s designed to help physicians navigate patient interactions while using computers and electronic health records during exams.

The policy, approved during the Annual Meeting in June, encourages physicians to incorporate questions while using electronic devices and to ask patients in satisfaction surveys about how they felt regarding the use of these devices during exams.

“Our board report looked at the effect of electronic health records on interactions between patients and physicians and found that the perspective and skills physicians bring to using computers determines whether the response to their introduction in the exam room will be positive or negative,” said then-AMA Board Chair Steven J. Stack, MD, in a statement. “We look forward to gathering more information to help physicians best incorporate this new technology into their interactions with patients.”

Delegates also voted to push for greater EHR interoperability so that independent physicians will have an easier time connecting with systems of hospitals and others in their communities.

Call for standardization

The AMA was directed to seek legislation or regulations requiring that all electronic health records vendors standardize their software. Delegates asked the AMA to partner with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop incentives for hospitals and health systems that would promote more efficient sharing of EHRs with independent physicians.

Those who supported the measure noted that some hospital EHR systems were incompatible with systems of physicians who worked outside the hospital. They also noted that no state or other government entity required vendors to standardize interconnectivity among EHR systems.

“The Medical Student Section broadly supports improving interoperability between electronic health records, as well as actions by federal agencies that set technical interoperability and data integrity standards across the industry,” said Paul Pukurdpol, a regional medical student alternate delegate for the Colorado Medical Society on behalf of the Medical Student Section, in testimony submitted before the House of Delegates meeting. “The MSS supports collaborating with and incentivizing EHR vendors to improve interoperability and Internet-based accessibility, as well as encouraging the federal government to set data format and security standards for all vendors.”

EHR interoperability has been an issue for many hospitals and physicians, according to the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, one of the organizations assigned by CMS to certify systems for use in the Medicare and Medicaid meaningful use incentive programs.

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