Five Ways EHRs Are Helping CDC Track COVID-19 Vaccinations

By the EHR Association COVID-19 Task Force

In December, two COVID-19 vaccines received authorization from the FDA, and the federal government began distribution to the states almost immediately. Millions of Americans have already received their first dose – many their second – and millions more will be vaccinated in the coming weeks and months. While social distancing, frequent hand washing, and face masks remain vital tools in limiting spread of coronavirus, we can increasingly see our way to a full return to hugs and handshakes, in-person meetings, travel, pubs and parties, concerts and classrooms.

As we anxiously await a return to our old way of life, public health experts, policymakers, and the public are watching the CDC vaccine data tracker, updated every evening with the latest numbers, including: 

  • How many vaccine doses have been distributed to-date? 
  • How many vaccines have been administered?
  • How many people have received their first dose? 
  • How many people have gotten a second dose?
  • Which vaccine is being administered?

But how does the CDC get all that data? The answer varies, but it’s made possible by technology, and electronic health records (EHRs) have been a key player from the beginning. 

Here are five ways that EHRs and the EHR Association are playing important roles in vaccine administration and data collection in the United States.

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Because COVID-19 Didn’t Erase the Opioid Crisis… How Health IT Can Support Opioid Tapering Plans

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 6.37.00 PMThe COVID-19 crisis started to consume the United States just as it had been turning the corner on the most severe chapter of the opioid crisis. Opioid prescribing rates and drug overdose rates both remain distressingly high, and some patients on opioids are more vulnerable to impacts from COVID-19. At the same time, for patients with severe chronic pain, opioids are clinically indicated, and provide meaningful relief from a life of constant pain that could otherwise be debilitating. For these individuals, prescribers are often challenged with adhering to CDC guidelines and state laws that limit opioid use while effectively treating pain, and this is especially true for patients who have been treated with higher doses of opioids for extended periods of time. 

The EHR Association’s Opioid Crisis Task Force has written a white paper to comment on the role that health information technologies, including EHRs, can play in assisting physicians with responsible opioid tapering.
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Strategic Healthcare Leaders Recognize Cybersecurity As A Patient Safety Risk

By the EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

Cybersecurity leadership quote(1)For many C level executives in a healthcare organization, cybersecurity equates to risk of a cyberattack that results in a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) breach and fine. 

The bigger risk posed by a cyberattack, however, is to patient safety. If you get anything from this blog post, it should be this: Cybersecurity incidents affect more than HIPAA compliance, and should be treated as a patient safety risk. 

By categorizing cyberattacks as a patient safety risk, it escalates the importance of cybersecurity as more than mitigating a potential HIPAA fine.

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How EHR Technology Can Support Best Practices for Opioid Prescribing

By Dan Seltzer and Alan Staples
Co-chairs, Clinician Impact Subgroup, EHRA Opioid Crisis Task Force

screenshot_2018-12-26 ehra cdc opioid guideline implementation guide for ehrs - ehra-cdc-opioid-guideline-implementation-gu[...]The widespread opioid epidemic and its devastating effects flood our news feeds daily. No one is immune, which is why when the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) asked for volunteers to join a new Opioid Crisis Task Force, we and many others – including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists – stepped forward to share our experiences and expertise. For the past year, we have been conducting research and providing recommendations on new ways EHR technology can contribute solutions to help solve the complex puzzle of the opioid crisis.

Our most recent contribution is the CDC Opioid Guideline – Implementation Guide for Electronic Health Records.

Initial research and conversations with providers focused on the question, What do providers need from technology to support their efforts in the opioid crisis?  The input we received led us to develop a guide to assist healthcare organizations implement clinical practice guidelines within the EHR to improve opioid stewardship in clinical practice.   (more…)

Coming Soon: Guide to Implementing CDC Opioid Rx Guidelines Within the EHR

By the Clinical Impact Subgroup, 
EHRA Opioid Crisis Task Force

CDC opioid guide image
During
National Health IT Week, we celebrate and take pride in the value that health information and technology has brought to patients and their healthcare providers. We also look ahead to new benefits that health IT can bring.

EHRA is committed to bringing together forward-looking experts from among our 34 member companies to collaborate on solving industry challenges. In 2018, we formed an Opioid Crisis Task Force to research and provide recommendations on ways EHR technology can help with solving the complex puzzle of the opioid crisis.   (more…)

FDA Health IT Guidance Is A Good Start, But More Clarity Is Needed

By Shari Medina, MD

This month, the FDA issued long-awaited guidelines EHR tablet graphicon the agency’s implementation of the 21st Century Cures Act in regards to Clinical Decision Support and the FDA’s intent to exercise enforcement discretion for many types of patient-facing software, mobile applications, and software which have not obtained ONC certification.
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