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GAO Finds That HHS Has No Effective Plan for EHRs in Post-Acute Settings

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) in February released a report outlining the need for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve its planning and evaluate its efforts to increase information exchange via electronic health records (EHRs) in the post-acute care setting.

The GAO found that the HHS Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) did not have a comprehensive plan for the adoption of EHRs in the post-acute setting. Unlike the acute setting and physician’s offices, adoption of EHR in the post-acute setting has not been incentivized by meaningful use (MU) payments. Therefore, the adoption rate of EHR in the post-acute setting has been nominal.

The GAO identified five factors that affect the use of EHR in the post-acute setting: cost, implementation of standards, workflow disruptions, technological challenges and staffing issues.

ONC plans to fund cooperative agreements with state governments to fund programs that will help promote health information sharing in the post-acute setting. Additional funding for information technology in this setting may also come from Medicaid matching funds. In response to this report, ONC also plans to upgrade and better coordinate certification of the EHRs in the post-acute setting.

Robert B. Vogel, MD, JD
Retinal Ophthalmologist at Piedmont Eye Center, Lynchburg VA;
Attorney, Overbey Hawkins & Wright, PLLS, Lynchburg, VA;
Adjunct Professor, Humanities and Bioethics, Liberty University School of Medicine, Lynchburg, VA.