AAFP: Meaningful Use audits causing 'undue hardship' on physicians

Meaningful Use audits are a "growing" concern to physicians, who find them disruptive and unhelpful, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).

In a letter sent earlier this month to Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder states that physicians feel targeted and have run into problems with the audits, including:

  • Long wait times between correspondences with the auditors
  • Lack of follow-up by the auditors
  • No defined end-of-audit processes
  • Extensive back-and-forth communications and the prolonged nature of the audit process
  • Large administrative burdens on providers and practices to comply with documentation requests

"Family physicians who have implemented and fully use electronic health records in the spirit of the Meaningful Use program should have a reasonable expectation that the accompanying financial subsidy would help offset the implementation costs and associated initial decrease in practice productivity," the letter states. "The AAFP is concerned that auditors are causing undue hardship for family physicians with unreasonable and burdensome documentation requests which result in additional, significant expenses to be a meaningful user."

The letter also asks CMS to answer several questions regarding the audits, such as the percentage of eligible professionals being audited, the pass/fail rate and details of the audit selection process, to better understand the "value" of the audits.

Blackwelder points out that AAFP sent a similar letter April 6 that has gone unanswered. He asks for immediate attention to the matter, as well as a meeting.   

CMS' audit contractor, Garden City, New York-based Figliozzi & Company, has been auditing providers for Meaningful Use since 2012. Meaningful Use audits can be particularly intimidating because CMS has provided little information about the audit appeals process. To top it off, the Office of Inspector General has also begun Meaningful Use audits of providers, so some providers may end up undergoing more than one audit.

To learn more:
- here's the letter (.pdf)