A recent report issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has found that the conversion to electronic health records (EHRs) is vulnerable to fraud and abuse, because Medicare officials have failed to develop appropriate safeguards. And as The New York Times reports, EHRs are a critical piece of the Obama administration’s plan for health care reform

Medical facilities are required to self-report records to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS), but CMS “has not implemented strong prepayment safeguards, and its ability to safeguard incentive payments postpayment is also limited,” according to the report, which also stated that detecting fraud and abuse in the Medicare system is something CMS cannot do well without making some changes.

As of Sept. 2012, CMS has doled out $4 billion in incentive payments to hospitals adopting EHR systems, and another $6.6 billion is expected to be paid out between 2011 and 2016, according to the report. To protect the investment and ensure proper governance of this billion dollar program, the report made several recommendations, such as:

  • verifying the accuracy of hospitals' and selected professionals' self-reported information by obtaining and reviewing supporting documentation; and
  • working with hospitals and providing guidance on the proper way to keep records and maintain compliance.

View the 34-page report below:

Main photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com