OIG to audit NIH’s EHR for IT, interoperability challenges

By | April 16, 2019

The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General intends to put the National Institutes of Health’s electronic medical records under the microscope.

According to an updated work plan released on Monday, OIG is planning to conduct an audit this year of NIH’s information technology and interoperability challenges within the agency’s electronic health record system.

The OIG work plan notes that certain NIH institutes and centers provide direct patient care and that these organizations leverage “an electronic health records system to help facilitate effective care.”

OIG’s Office of Audit Services, which will issue a report later this year, will “determine whether select EHR system controls are in place in accordance with federal requirements and assess EHR interoperability challenges.”

Congress directed OIG to assess NIH’s operations, including its IT infrastructure, under the Departments of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and 2019 Education Appropriations Act and 2019 Continuing Appropriations Act.

At the 2016 HIMSS Conference, the NIH Clinical Center—a research hospital—was the first federal healthcare facility to be recognized for reaching HIMSS Analytics’ Stage 7 Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model.

Also See: NIH center receives HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 award

EMRAM is a methodology for evaluating the progress and impact of EHR systems at hospitals, which includes eight stages (from 0 to 7) that measure a hospital’s implementation and utilization of IT to optimize healthcare and the treatment patients receive. Stage 7, a totally paperless records environment, represents the highest EMRAM level.

According to NIH, the agency’s Clinical Center has been using EHRs as far back as the 1970s. The center’s current Clinical Research Information System (CRIS), which was evaluated by HIMSS Analytics for the 2016 Stage 7 EMRAM award, manages patient protocol data, writes medical orders, retrieves laboratory results, documents progress notes as well as other aspects of medical care.


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