Responding to physician dissatisfaction with electronic health records, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has created a bipartisan working group to identify ways that Congress and the Obama administration can collaborate to improve EHRs.

“After $28 billion in taxpayer dollars spent subsidizing electronic health records, ‎doctors don’t like these electronic medical record systems and say they disrupt workflow, interrupt the doctor-patient relationship and haven’t been worth the effort,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate committee, who has been joined in the effort by Ranking Member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.). “The goal of this working group is to identify the five or six things we can do to help make the failed promise of electronic health records something that physicians and providers look forward to instead of something they endure.”

Also See: Senate Health Committee Chair: Meaningful Use Promise Unfulfilled

Alexander and Murray have extended an open invitation to all members of the Senate health committee to participate in the EHR working group, whose objectives include:

*Helping doctors and hospitals improve quality of care and patient safety;

*Facilitating information exchange between different EHR vendors and different health professionals;

*Empowering patients to engage in their own healthcare through convenient, user-friendly access to their personal health information;

*Leveraging health information technology capabilities to improve patient safety; and

*Protecting patient privacy and security of health information.

At an April 23 Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing, Alexander informed Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell that the working group would seek to address EHR problems “administratively” through HHS actions or “legislatively” with the passage of laws in Congress. Burwell told Alexander in response that HHS has put together a similar working group that is “ready to go and we are committed,” adding “we are looking forward to putting the list [of EHR issues] together and looking forward to getting it done.”

Toward that end, the Senate health committee announced that the bipartisan staff meetings will involve participation from health professionals, health IT developers, relevant government agencies, and other experts specializing in HIT. 

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