On December 10, 2013, the Office of Inspector General for the United States Department of Health & Human Services (OIG) issued a report finding that hospital implementation of fraud safeguards in electronic health records (EHRs) falls short of the recommended standards. The report carries out one of the OIG’s 2013 Work Plan objectives to study how EHR technology may lead to improper payments by federal healthcare programs. In its Work Plan, the OIG had noted that: “Medicare contractors have noted an increased frequency of medical records with identical documentation across services.”
The OIG’s findings were extracted from the responses to an on-line questionnaire to 864 hospitals that had received Medicare EHR incentive payments as of March 2012. The questionnaire focused on four EHR fraud safeguards: 1) EHR audit functions; 2) EHR user authorization and access; 3) EHR data transfer; and 4) patient involvement via the ability to access and comment within their EHR. The OIG criticized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC) for failing to incorporate recommended safeguards into meaningful use criteria and EHR certification standards.