White House wants user-friendly electronic health records

March 6, 2018 by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

The Trump administration Tuesday launched a new effort under the direction of presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner to overcome years of problems with electronic medical records and make them easier for patients to use.

Medicare will play a key role, eventually enabling nearly 60 million beneficiaries to securely access claims data and share that information with their doctors.

Electronic medical records were ushered in with great fanfare but it's generally acknowledged they've fallen short. Different systems don't communicate. Patient portals can be clunky to navigate. Some hospitals still provide records on compact discs that newer computers can't read.

The government has already spent about $30 billion to subsidize the adoption of digital records by hospitals and doctors. It's unclear how much difference the Trump effort will make. No timetables were announced Tuesday.

The government-wide MyHealthEData initiative will be overseen by the White House Office of American Innovation, which is headed by Kushner. His stewardship of a broad portfolio of domestic and foreign policy duties has recently been called into question due to his inability to obtain a permanent security clearance.

Medicare administrator Seema Verma said her agency is working on a program called Blue Button 2.0, with the goal of providing beneficiaries with secure access to their claims data, shareable with their doctors. Software developers are already working on apps, using mock patient data.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also reviewing its requirements for insurers, so that government policy will encourage the companies to provide patients with access to their records.

"It's our data, it's our personal information, and we should control it," Verma said, making her announcement at a health care tech conference in Las Vegas.

The longstanding bipartisan goal of paying for health care value—not sheer volume of services—will not be achieved until patients are able to use their data to make informed decisions about their treatment, Verma added.

Independent experts said the administration has identified a key problem in the health care system.

"This is a good first step, but several key challenges need to be addressed," said Ben Moscovitch, a technology expert with the Pew Charitable Trusts.

For example, the claims data that Medicare wants to put in the hands of sometimes lacks key clinical details, said Moscovitch. If the patient had a hip replacement, claims data may not indicate what model of artificial hip the surgeon used.

"Claims data alone are insufficient," said Moscovitch. "They are incomplete, and they lack key data." The administration could address that by adding needed information to the claims data, he explained.

Explore further: Protecting your electronic health records

Related Stories

Protecting your electronic health records

February 19, 2018
(HealthDay)—An electronic health record, or EHR, is the digital version of the paper records documenting your health care. These online records are an advance in health management in many ways.

Most health care records now are electronic

July 17, 2013
An ever-expanding amount of the nation's medical records—millions of prescriptions, medical reports and appointment reminders—are now computerized and part of an ambitious electronic medical records program, the Obama ...

Trump allows US states work rules for Medicaid enrollees

January 11, 2018
Donald Trump's administration moved Thursday to let states require that able-bodied adults work in order to receive health care benefits through Medicaid, a pillar of the US social safety net.

Health groups aim to make medical records easier to access

March 1, 2016
Technology companies, hospital systems and doctors' groups have agreed to take steps to make electronic health records easier for consumers to access and use, the Obama administration announced Monday.

Medicare plans to replace Social Security numbers on cards

May 30, 2017
Old Medicare cards will be going in the shredder.

Many hospitals still not using digital patient health information

October 2, 2017
U.S. hospitals are making slow progress in ensuring that their providers have access to patients' complete electronic health records when those patients have also received care from outside providers, according to a new study ...

Recommended for you

Engineered enzyme eliminates nicotine addiction in preclinical tests

October 17, 2018
Oct. 17, 2018—Scientists at Scripps Research have successfully tested a potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents.

Self-lubricating latex could boost condom use: study

October 17, 2018
A perpetually unctuous, self-lubricating latex developed by a team of scientists in Boston could boost the use of condoms, they reported Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science.

How healthy will we be in 2040?

October 17, 2018
A new scientific study of forecasts and alternative scenarios for life expectancy and major causes of death in 2040 shows all countries are likely to experience at least a slight increase in lifespans. In contrast, one scenario ...

Study finds evidence of intergenerational transmission of trauma among ex-POWs from the Civil War

October 16, 2018
A trio of researchers affiliated with the National Bureau of Economic Research has found evidence that suggests men who were traumatized while POWs during the U.S. Civil War transmitted that trauma to their offspring—many ...

Father's nicotine use can cause cognitive problems in children and grandchildren

October 16, 2018
A father's exposure to nicotine may cause cognitive deficits in his children and even grandchildren, according to a study in mice publishing on October 16 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology by Pradeep Bhide of Florida ...

Many supplements contain unapproved, dangerous ingredients: study

October 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—U.S. health officials have issued more than 700 warnings during the last decade about the sale of dietary supplements that contain unapproved and potentially dangerous drug ingredients, new research reveals.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.