Health secretary nominee places priority on electronic health records management

Newswire: Nov. 29, 2017.

Dateline: Washington.

The nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services told a Senate panel this week that one of his priorities will be electronic health records management, in ways that mean patient needs “are being met with greater transparency and accountability.”

But Alex Azar, formerly the president of Lilly USA, the largest division of Eli Lilly and Co., also faced questions from senators regarding studies and reports that electronic health records consume the majority of physicians’ working time and is accelerating burnout in their profession.

Azar told Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate health committee, that working with physicians involved in the vast Medicare system may be a way to identify practices that reduce the time providers spend on electronic health record documentation.

“On the regulatory burden or just the burden of electronic health records with physicians, that would be my style of how to work — the affected individuals, they know what’s wrong, they know what’s happening — and get the input from them to see if there are appropriate changes that can be made,” Azar said.

Azar also sharply criticized the lack of interoperability among electronic health record systems, calling that “a betrayal of the vision HHS Secretary (Mike) Leavitt laid out,” during his four-year tenure from 2005 to 2009.

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(Front page image of HHS headquarters via Wikipedia.)