OIG to conduct close review of Medicare EHR incentive payments

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In its mid-year update for 2016, the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General examines activities it will pursue this year--including many health IT-related priorities.

“Specifically, this edition of the Work Plan removes items that have been completed, postponed, or canceled, and includes new items that have been started since October 2015,” the report states.

Much of what the OIG will review regarding health IT will center on electronic health records and the incentives covered entities receive for adoption and use of the systems. EHR adoption has dramatically increased for U.S. hospitals, according to data recently shared by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, with 96 percent of nonfederal acute care hospitals using a certified EHR.

The Government Accountability Office “has identified improper incentive payments as the primary risk to the EHR incentive programs,” the OIG report states. “These programs may be at greater risk of improper payments than other programs because they are new and have complex requirements.”

Because of that, the OIG plans to carefully review Medicare incentive payments for such programs.

That will include:

  • Ensuring there are no erroneous payments being made for adoption of EHRs
  • Performing audits of covered entities that receive EHR incentive payments to make sure they have proper protections in place for EHR data
  • Determining whether payments to providers “to purchase, implement and operate EHR technology were claimed in accordance with Medicaid requirements”

In addition, OIG also will examine “the extent to which hospitals comply with contingency planning requirements” of HIPAA, especially in regard to the security rule, as well as assess the premarket review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for security controls in medical devices.

To learn more:
- read the report (.pdf)