GAO: CMS and HHS EHR Incentive and Access Programs come under fire

“Since 2009, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has invested over $35 billion in health information technology, including efforts to enhance patient access to and use of electronic health information. One of the largest programs is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program (Medicare EHR Program), which, among other things, encourages providers to make electronic health information available to patients. Program data for 2015 show that health care providers that participated in the program (3,218 hospitals and 194,200 health care professionals such as physicians) offered most of their patients the ability to electronically access health information. Patients generally described this access as beneficial, but noted limitations such as the inability to aggregate their longitudinal health information from multiple sources into a single record.

Data from the 2015 Medicare EHR Program show that relatively few patients electronically access their health information when offered the ability to do so. Patients GAO interviewed described primarily accessing…”…

HHS Should Assess the Effectiveness of Its Efforts to Enhance Patient Access to and Use of Electronic Health Information, GAO-17-305: Published: Mar 15, 2017


G2X TAKE:  With the new HHS and CMS leaders working to identify places where they can make cuts, this recent report challenging the effectiveness, or rather the inability to show results, for key programs such as the CMS Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program is not ideal timing for the leaders (and contractors) supporting these efforts.

The news early this week that the Health IT Coalition has asked Secretary Price to evaluate the authority and value of ONC is just one example of many, some public and others private, efforts to influence where and how the new Federal Health IT leadership restructures and funds future initiatives.

As part of the new administration’s recent executive order announcing their intent to re-org parts of the government, a specific OMB report was cited that highlights opportunities to eliminate waste in Federal Healthcare initiatives, affirming that this administration is at least relying in part on internal government reporting and the guidance provided. 

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