Myth or fact? Doctors can’t openly discuss EHR problems

Tanya Albert Henry , Contributing News Writer

Some physicians or other health professionals may want to talk with others about their EHR’s usability or interoperability. Or they may want to raise concerns about the system’s security. 

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However, physicians often keep the comments to themselves because they fear that an EHR gag clause stops them from talking about these items or other topics surrounding the electronic health record system.

But not being able to discuss these things is just a myth, according to the latest research that the AMA has done through its “Debunking Regulatory Myths” series. This series aims to provide regulatory clarification to physicians and their care teams. It is part of the AMA’s practice-transformation efforts and provides physicians and their care teams with resources to reduce guesswork and administrative burdens so their focus can be on streamlining clinical workflow processes, improving patient outcomes and increasing satisfaction.

With few exceptions, EHR users are allowed to openly discuss usability, interoperability, security, user experience, developer business practices and the way the user has used the technology, according to AMA research.

Physicians and other clinicians do, however, need to be careful about public communication that involves things such as pre-market testing or development, as this can be an area where EHR vendors do restrict communication.

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And while physicians can share screenshots and videos, they can only do so in a way that shares what is necessary to “adequately communicate about a particular relevant health IT issue such as the usability and interoperability of an EHR,” the AMA “Debunking Regulatory Myth” research says.

Learn more with the AMA STEPS Forward® Taming the EHR Playbook.

Learn more with the “AMA Debunking Medical Practice Regulatory Myths Learning Series,” which is available on AMA Ed Hub™ and provides regulatory clarification to physicians and their care teams. For each topic completed, a physician can receive CME for a maximum of 0.25 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™.

Meanwhile, experts have explored the issue during an “AMA STEPS Forward® Podcast” episode entitled “Debunking Regulatory Myths.”

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AMA member Kevin Hopkins, MD, senior physician adviser for practice transformation at the AMA, and Lindsey Carlasare, AMA research and policy manager, talked about the series, discussed common regulatory myths and shared tools for eliminating guesswork and other administrative burdens. Listen on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.

Physicians are encouraged to submit questions or ideas they have about potential regulatory myths. The AMA’s experts will research the matter. If the concern turns out to be a bona fide regulation that unnecessarily burdens physicians and their teams, the AMA’s advocacy arm can get involved to push for regulatory change.