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HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, testifying on the department’s $84 billion 2016 budget request, is challenged by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) who stated that half of doctors don’t like their EHRs to the point that they’ll accept Medicare penalties rather than deal with workflow disruption, adding that the AMA found that 70 percent of doctors say their EHRs weren’t worth the cost and that EHRs are the leading cause of physician dissatisfaction. Burwell responded that HHS will work with Congress on a list of administrative action items related to EHRs, which seems to refer to the work of the HELP committee that most recently talked about interoperability and interviewed Epic’s Peter DeVault. What worries me most about the entire exchange is that nobody questioned whether HHS or Congress have any business involving themselves with how doctors use EHRs, where Burwell’s response might have logically been, “Respectfully, we’re in the business of making taxpayer payments to providers who choose to participate in Medicare and HITECH, but otherwise the EHRs that providers buy, use, and complain about really aren’t under the government’s purview. We should be monitoring the outcomes, not prescribing the process, which is how government works with all other industries.”

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Poll respondents grade the HIMSS conference with somewhere in the C-plus range. A consulting company vendor says it was successful in meeting with clients and networking with peers, while a CIO observes that the HIMSS conference is all sizzle and no steak as it keeps growing and ratio of vendors to providers seems to be going up as well. New poll to your right or here: what do you think about the fact that most health IT vendor executives are white men? (“I’m not thinking about it at all” is a poll option as well). Add a comment to support your position if you like.


We were signing up for our microscopic booth for HIMSS in Las Vegas and were surprised to find that nearly all of the exhibit spaces have already been taken in the booth signup frenzy that occurs even before the previous conference is over. I don’t have the money or HIMSS points to play with the big boys, but even the 10×10 spaces in weird locations were mostly booked up. The tiniest parcels run around $5,500 and I declined the $2,500 extra HIMSS wanted for a corner space (they didn’t charge extra for our corner spot the past two years). We’ll be in #5069, with our presence probably annoying our next door neighbors Varian Medical Systems and Patient Prompt even though we’ll keep their area busier than it would be otherwise as …read more