Study Says Overcharging by the Hospital Might Be Overstated

Despite concerns first raised a few years ago, hospitals do not seem to be abusing their electronic data systems to generate bigger bills and boost their income — at least according to authors of a large study released Tuesday. Other leaders in the field say the jury’s still out.

The concern over possible misuse of records grabbed headlines in 2012 after an investigation by the Center for Public Integrity and the New York Times found that some hospitals using electronic records were billing Medicare for significantly more than hospitals that still used paper records.

After the stories appeared, the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services sent hospitals a strongly worded letter warning them against misusing the ease of electronic forms to pad their bills.

Source

What an interesting study. I especially like the part of the article where they suggest that hospitals aren’t charging more for their services because of EHR because the hospitals had already been maximizing their revenue for a long time before EHR. It’s a fine point that’s worthy of consideration. I don’t think it’s as true in some ambulatory practices, but in the hospital world they’d made a lot of efforts to maximize their revenue even without EHR.

One angle the article above doesn’t cover is that many people were suggesting that this EHR over billing of services was fraud on the part of these organizations. I’ve always thought that was ridiculous. Sure, fraud exists and is facilitated by technology in many cases. However, what the majority of hospitals are doing to maximize revenue isn’t anywhere close to fraud. The problem is that Medicare and other payers have been able to avoid paying for services that were rendered, but never billed. If EHR has increased claims (and this study suggests it hasn’t), then I’d submit it was because hospitals are finally charging for all of the services their rendering.

What do you think? Does EHR increase the cost of healthcare by charging for all of the services provided? Does EHR facilitate fraudulent claims?

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.

1 Comment

  • The EMR I was exposed to about 40 years ago had a simple premise; every single thing ordered for a patient first had to go into the system. Every pill, xray, lab test, etc. It didn’t go in, the service or item was not supplied. Even a stat xray in ER went in – first. In that case, automation provided for a very accurate bill.

    In contrast, say about 20 years ago, after one of my children was born, we got a bill that included piles of errors, including tests that were supposedly run days before birth! At best, the bill was full of errors and padding.

    I’ll take carefully done automation – and still keep an eye out for errors and fraud.

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