OIG report seeks increased safeguards in the EHR arena

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OIG report seeks increased safeguards in the EHR arena
OIG report seeks increased safeguards in the EHR arena

The move to electronic health records recently had a red flag thrown in front of it by a report from the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. 

EHRs are expected to become the norm for healthcare providers in the future. But in the infancy of their use, they lack oversight and safeguards, needed authors say. 

OIG emphasized that the program, designed to lower costs and improve care with upgraded coordination, still needs better ways to confirm that information from hospitals and doctors is correct. The multibillion dollar Medicare plan, which pays incentives to doctors and hospitals to implement the new system, falls far short on checking submissions, the report said. Recommendations include instituting random audits of physicians and hospitals before payment is conferred to them. 

An administration spokesman defended current policy, stating “the overwhelming majority” of providers are serious about complying with reporting requirements.

Following healthcare reform, nearly $7 billion will be paid over five years to doctors and hospitals to implement the switch. The report said 74,317 health professionals and 1,333 hospitals have received money so far. It states that Medicare has not audited the $3.6 billion in payments it has made since the program's inception in 2011. 

The OIG report also calls for pre-payment audits and different reporting measures.

The report comes at a time when greater use of electronic health records is being touted as a way to keep healthcare costs down while improving care delivery. Advocates have asserted that such records will lead to better service coordination. But the report notes that Medicare safeguards to ensure data are lacking.

The report also alleges that the Medicare program “is vulnerable to paying incentives to professionals and hospitals that do not fully meet the meaningful use requirements.” 


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