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HIMSS Analytics study measures EHR governance programs

According to study data collected by HIMSS Analytics, 60% of healthcare organizations have a formalized EHR governance program in place. And almost two-thirds of the time, it’s not just IT staffers doing the governing: Physicians and nurses are having their say in how the application and its use are structured.

HIMSS Analytics defines EHR governance as “an organizational entity that oversees the use of your EHR solution and the process by which changes can be made to the underlying structure of that solution.” The majority of the 238 respondents to the study work in either the C-suite or other executive/director positions in healthcare organizations.

“How organizations make decisions around enhancements to EHRs, including implementation can dramatically impact their ability to meet regulatory measures and create workflow efficiencies,” said HIMSS Analytics Research Director, Brendan FitzGerald.

Other data gathered in the study revealed that physician adoption and engagement in using EHRs are the biggest obstacles in the way of effective governance programs. Of those with a formalized EHR governance structure, 63% involve a multi-disciplinary advisory board or committee.

Healthcare facilities need to gain tighter control of their EHR systems amid shifting regulations and deadlines that create more frequent system upgrades. The ONC recently released their proposed rule for 2015’s voluntary EHR certification standards, following up on an earlier declaration where they promised to make more frequent EHR recommendations. The rule was open to a public comment period and was designed to promote interoperability, while improving upon the current EHR criteria. The College of Healthcare Information Management and 47 other healthcare groups will likely have something to offer in those comments as they asked for the 2015 standards to be delayed last HIMSS.

The increased input from ONC and adoption of EHR governance programs indicate a broadening interest in creating best practices for the proper use of EHR systems. Dedication to this cause, by both government agencies and providers, resulted in the EHR meaningful use program surpassing the $19 billion mark in reimbursements paid to providers. More than 88% of hospitals eligible for incentive payments have received them, according to data shared at a recent Health IT Policy Committee meeting. Some of the providers who received payments were still in the adoption/implementation phase with their EHR system.

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