Kaiser Permanente's Behavioral Health System has been cited by the California Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) for inaccurate electronic health record keeping that obscures its violation of "timely access" of plan members to mental health services.
The DMHC found that while Kaiser used its EHR to schedule appointments, it used paper wait lists. That enabled the EHR to show the wait times to be based on the date of the actual booking or the next available booking date, and not the date of the member's original appointment request. As a result, the wait times appeared much shorter than they actually were, and hid the fact that many appointments did not occur within state-imposed time limits.
This, and other deficiencies, were found as part of a "routine medical survey" conducted in 2012. The survey was launched in response to a complaint brought by the National Union of Healthcare Workers, who brought Kaiser's practices to light, according to an article in EHRIntelligence.com. The union report called Kaiser's falsification of electronic records as "systematic and often purposeful."
The DMHC report noted that Kaiser has taken steps to eliminate the use of paper wait lists and accurately capture information regarding appointments electronically, but that the deficiencies have not been fully corrected. Kaiser still needs to provide remedial training to staff and establish and implement more accurate tracking processes, the report's authors say.
EHRs increasingly are coming under fire for billing and other irregularities that may cause users to violate the law, and are likely to be reviewed more rigorously by government authorities in the coming months.