HHS To Look At How EMR/EHR Use May Violate Fraud & Abuse Laws

Thought you had your hands full merely installing a multi-million dollar EHR, bringing it up to top performance, training staff members, winning over doctors and bickering with vendors?  Well, guess again.

It seems that HHS’s Office of the Inspector General now plans to look closely at whether EHR use violates fraud and abuse laws in any way.  To me, this sounds like a bit of an institutional turf war — given how long HHS had to get Meaningful Use and other standards developed, wouldn’t someone there have thought this through already? — but it’s nothing to ignore nonetheless.

The news comes with the release of the OIG’s 2012 work plan, in which the agency promises to “identify fraud and abuse vulnerabilities” in EHRs, as well as finding out how certified EHR systems address such vulnerabilities. The OIG also plans to review Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payments to make sure they were doled out only to providers meeting Meaningful Use criteria.

One detail worth noting is that the OIG will be looking to find EHR documentation practices that might be associated with improper payments, something the HHS agency had targeted last year as well.

It seems the OIG has noticed, as have many doctors, a growing number of medical records with “identical documentation across services,” rather than documentation specific to the service provided. That is a definite no-no, the OIG reminds one and all.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.