Long-standing AMA policies advocate for the improvement of electronic health records (EHRs) and the advancement of health information technology (HIT). This advocacy was sharpened with new policies aimed at facilitating more flexible and efficient EHR systems with fewer medication errors that were adopted at the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting in Honolulu.

A common goal throughout all levels of medicine has been a reduction in medication errors. However, with an inability to discontinue or invalidate an old or changed prescription, the potential for error exists.  By changing a medication’s dose, two valid prescriptions for the same medication remain in the system, which leads to confusion.

EHRs have contributed to the problem by creating new opportunities for errors. For example, a pharmacy can electronically request a medication that was previously changed or discontinued because the status is not recognized in the EHR. Even though a system for sending medication cancellations exists already, it is not universally used.

In recognition of a need for a more efficient system, the AMA House of Delegates (HOD) adopted policy supporting the “creation, standardization and implementation” of e-prescription cancellation from all EHR vendors. The new AMA policy also supports having all cancellation orders be accepted by pharmacies and pharmacy benefit managers.

QPP and certified EHRs

The 2017 Quality Payment Program (QPP) gives physicians the option to use EHRs certified to the 2014 or 2015 edition. Doctors also have the option to use a combination of both editions. It was announced this month that physicians will not be required to use only the 2015 Certified Electronic Health Record Technology  in 2018, but there is still concern that physicians will eventually be unfairly subjected to penalties because their vendors’ products do not meet the latest federal certification criteria.

The HOD directed the AMA to advocate that physicians to be offered flexibility in the adoption and use of new versions or editions of certified EHRs “when there is not a sufficient choice of products that meet the specified standards.” The AMA also adopted new policy advocating for physicians to not be penalized if their vendors’ EHR technology does not meet current standards.

Read more news coverage from the 2017 AMA Interim Meeting.

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