Additional EMR Regulations – Good or Bad?

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Suppose the DMV added 1000 new rules to driving. Would that make driving saver? Would that help the police write better tickets? It would help the regulatory bodies better split hairs. It would allow more and bigger DMV offices.

I got the above comment emailed to me by Paul Lund who subscribes to the EMR and HIPAA email list. It’s an interesting comment and EMR and healthcare can likely learn from the rules of the road. I think the biggest challenge is that we seem to all understand about driving and the issues related to driving. In healthcare, we all think we know about the challenges of healthcare, but it’s often much more complex.

As I think of the analogy of driving to EMR, I agree with the general idea that less EMR regulation is better than more EMR regulation. For example, have we seen a measurable benefit from all of the EHR certification or meaningful use regulation>? I have yet to see it, but could point to plenty of areas where the EHR certification and MU regulations have caused a negative to healthcare.

However, just like in driving, I don’t think there should be no regulation at all of EMR and EHR software. As usual, I have a much more nuanced view. Can you imagine driving with no rules? The odd thing is that in some ways that’s what it feels like in EMR today.

A simple example is having a true standard for EMR interoperability. I’ve long wished that the EHR incentive money focused exclusively on this challenge. It’s a place where an adopted and supported standard for EHR data could really benefit the community. Plus, holding EHR vendors, hospitals, HIEs, and physician offices to that standard could be a real benefit. Right now every EMR seems to be doing what they want. Yes, we have CCD, but try transferring a CCD from one EMR to another right now. It’s a mess of multiple versions and challenging delivery. Works great in the HIMSS interoperability showcase, but somehow isn’t getting translated to real work.

Is it too much to ask for meaningful EMR regulation and nothing more?