Technological advances are by definition supposed to advance that portion of an industry they exist to serve. To make things easier, more intuitive, less burdensome. But all too often, it seems, just the opposite is true.

Healthcare providers know all about the hurdles associated with electronic health records (EHRs). The cumbersome system — one that should be designed to streamline the information-gathering process — is broken, in the opinion of many American healthcare providers.

"Information technology has automated processes in every industry except health care, where the introduction of EHRs resulted in additional burden on clinicians," Don Rucker, M.D., the national coordinator for health information technology, said in a statement. "Health IT tools need to be intuitive and functional so that clinicians can focus on their patients and not documentation."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is listening. And responding. HHS has developed a draft strategy to reduce the health information technology (IT) burden, and the strategy is open for public comment through Jan. 28, 2019.

The authors of the strategy are working to address the significant hurdles associated with electronic health records, which have introduced new challenges for clinicians and failed to address existing issues.

Healthcare providers, practice managers and hospitals across the nation have reported challenges with EHR system designs. Additionally, regulatory and administrative burdens associated with EHR use have been experienced during care delivery, required reporting activities and documentation of claims for payment.

These real challenges affect productivity, can increase the costs of an organization and certainly take away from patient focus.

To address these challenges, the strategy authors have set three primary goals for reducing EHR burden:

  • reducing the time and effort required to record information in EHRs during care delivery
  • reducing the time and effort needed to meet regulatory reporting requirements
  • improving the functionality and intuitiveness of EHRs.

Healthcare providers who wish to give input on the strategy can do so here.