Putting Policy Before Standards Can Create Serious ePA Roadblocks

By Leigh Burchell (Altera Digital Health), EHRA Public Policy Leadership Workgroup Chair

This is part three in a four-part series examining the need for ePA, the barriers presented by the current environment, necessary capabilities and functionality for progress, and the EHR Association’s policy recommendations. Read part two here

There is a strong use case for electronic prior authorization (ePA), given the frustration providers have with the burdensome current processes, and health IT developers recognize the potential that exists for our technologies to assist with making our clients’ lives easier in this area. However, the road to success with ePA will be rocky if it is not broadly rolled out at a pace and with a legal/regulatory cadence that aligns with the ability of stakeholders to deploy and use solutions that follow consistent standards. Therefore, the EHR Association supports the promulgation of ePA requirements only when undertaken in a way that avoids prior policy mistakes of pushing faster than standards development can keep up. 

Rolling out ePrior Authorization will be complex, even moreso than similar efforts at digitization we’ve already accomplished. This complexity stems from the need for change – and adoption of agreed-upon standards – by multiple stakeholders with varying levels of readiness.  For example, it is important to work closely with payers to ensure their readiness for the required bidirectional information flow using standards and to ensure functionality can be sufficiently tested. This also helps avoid a scenario in which payers roll out individual requirements to which EHR developers and providers will have to respond, which would be highly inefficient. 

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Standards will Make or Break Efforts Toward ePA

By Janet Campbell (Epic), EHRA Public Policy Leadership Workgroup Vice Chair

This is part two in a four-part series examining the need for ePA, the barriers presented by the current environment, necessary capabilities, and functionality, and the EHR Association’s policy recommendations. Part one can be read here.

Streamlining the electronic prior authorization (ePA) process will require significant coordination and standardization across multiple domains within individual healthcare organizations, across dozens of health plans covering their patients, and across the health IT tools in use by every participant in the process.

Progress is being made by various stakeholders in terms of standards development. Notably, the Coverage Requirements Determination (CRD), Documentation Templates and Rules (DTR), and the Prior Authorization Support (PAS) implementation guides – all a part of the Da Vinci Project’s efforts to understand functional requirements, build consensus on a technical approach, pilot, and iterate – have resulted in significant progress toward the enablement of highly automated prior authorization workflows.

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Standards, Certification, and ePA: Proceed with Caution

By Hans Buitendijk (Oracle Cerner), EHRA Chair

This is part one in a four-part series examining the need for electronic prior authorization (ePA), the barriers presented by the current environment, necessary capabilities and functionality, and the EHR Association’s policy recommendations.

The prior authorization process required by health plans and payers frustrates patients and providers alike because of inconsistent requirements and associated delays, and it isn’t going away. 

It is clear that there is an opportunity to apply health information technology (IT) toward the goal of improving efficiency in this area, but doing so will be a challenge that requires significant cross-stakeholder coordination and standardization of related data. The need for a collaborative focus is further exacerbated by the widely varying approaches to the adoption and deployment of health IT systems among providers. Further, the process itself touches many different points and players in administrative, clinical, and financial workflows. 

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2022 Clinical Workflow Flexibility Challenges in the EHR: Defining the Problem (Part Three)

In our two previous articles, we described an “as-is” exercise with the EHRA workgroup and the HIMSS Physician Committee members where one issue became the focus: the flexibility of workflows. This series of blog posts reviews the results of the exercise and describes a path forward. So far, this series has covered Learning the EHR, Personalizing the EHR and Understanding the Patient. In this article we discuss the fourth and final topic that was raised: Providing Care.

Providing Care
Providing medical care for the patient necessitates “last mile” flexibility that allows clinicians to jump in and out of the expected workflow. It has been demonstrated that a defined “workflow” that physicians agreed upon during development most commonly erodes after the first several steps. (1,2) The ability to step back into the workflow after a short detour needs to be readily available in an intuitive and simple manner. There should also be flexibility in how the EHR is used, both to conform to an individual’s working style as well as to respond to the demands of a clinical situation. Along these lines, but not limited to them, is the ability to have more than one patient record open with safeguards that ensure the correct data is always entered into the right patient’s chart.

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2022 Clinical Workflow Flexibility Challenges in the EHR: Defining the Problem (Part Two)

In our previous articles, we described an “as-is” exercise with the EHRA workgroup and the HIMSS Physician Committee members where one issue became the focus: the flexibility of workflows. This series of blog posts reviews the results of that exercise and describes a path forward. This article will focus on the second of the two topics: Personalizing the EHR and Understanding the Patient.

Personalizing the EHR
A common thread for “personalizing the system” is that while there are often tools available to personalize and configure the system, they can be difficult to discover, challenging to scale and share, and overwhelming to interact with in the clinician workflow. If it were simpler to personalize or optimize one’s own EHR experience, there would be little need for an organization to conduct optimization exercises after the initial implementation. After spending eight or more hours in formal training, and then significant time post go-live with practical EHR use, having some simple means available for self-configuration might remove additional hours of optimization, which will in turn reduce physician frustration.

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2022 Clinical Workflow Flexibility Challenges in the EHR: Defining the Problem (Part One)

Defining the Problem: Flexible Workflows in the Electronic Health Record (EHR)

The Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) Clinician Experience Workgroup met with the HIMSS Physician Committee shortly after HIMSS 2021 to discuss areas of shared focus and create plans for collaboration over the next year. Our groups already agree on the quality, safety and efficiency-of-care benefits, to both providers and patients, that EHRs have brought. We also agree that there is more work to be done to improve and deepen the impact of these tools on care delivery, documentation and clinician satisfaction. The focus of our meeting was to decide where action was most urgently needed to raise the bar for EHRs. One topic that was of interest was the sense that EHRs lacked flexibility within clinical workflows. This series will provide a summary of our discussion, the areas of focus we agreed upon, as well as some of the promising solutions we discussed.

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