Happy Patient Access Week! CBE celebrates this week to recognize healthcare access professionals for their continued accomplishments of service in the healthcare access continuum. Patient Access is the face of the patient experience and many times the first interaction a patient has with a facility. Needless to say, it is one very important function.
There is continued work and investment to improve patient access. Download the latest report from the GAO titled Health Information Technology: HHS Should Assess the Effectiveness of Its Efforts to Enhance Patient Access to and Use of Electronic Health Information. The conclusions of the report are provided below.
Through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service’s (CMS) Medicare and Medicaid Electronic Health Record (HER) Programs and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology’s (ONC) multiple individual initiatives, HHS supports a wide range of efforts intended to increase patients’ electronic access to their health information. HHS’s investment in these efforts has been significant—since 2009 HHS has spent over $35 billion on the development and adoption of health information technology. CMS’s and ONC’s efforts aim to encourage the use of technologies that allow patients to electronically access their longitudinal health information, contribute to that information, and direct it to any location of their choice. While HHS’s investment in health information technology is significant, HHS lacks the ability to determine whether, or to what extent, CMS’s and ONC’s efforts are helping HHS achieve its goals. ONC is largely responsible for measuring the nation’s progress towards increasing patients’ electronic access to health information. However, ONC has not developed outcome measures to directly measure the effectiveness of its individual efforts, identify areas that need improvement, and ensure accountability for achieving results. Without such outcome-focused performance measures linked to relevant agency goals, ONC—and by extension, HHS—cannot determine whether, or to what extent, each of the programs and efforts is contributing to overall goals, or if these efforts need to be modified in any way.