Friday, January 10, 2014

Study Finds Copy-Paste Function in Electronic Health Records Leads to Medicare Fraud

A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Wednesday outlined more flaws in the government oversight of adopting electronic health records. This is the second report issued by the HHS that specifically criticizes the CMS oversight of the federal program created to convert paper patient records to an electronic format. 

The report specifically points to the lack of clear "program integrity practices" to provide guidelines on the proper use of copy-paste, or cloning function, in updating electronic health records and recording new office visits and treatments. Doctors and hospitals use the feature to reduce the time it takes to input patient data. Many say that without this function the health practitioners would drown in the patient input process, to the detriment of the treatment quality for their patients. 

However, the report finds that widespread indiscriminate use of the cloning function may lead to the input of more extensive treatment and tests than actually occurred. This, in turn, leads to doctors overcharging Medicare for care that was not actually provided. There is also concern that without proper oversight this type of fraud may grow exponentially in the coming years with the implementation of electronic health records nationwide. 

The report issued by the Office of the Inspector General for the Health and Human Services Depart is available here.

Media coverage of the report is available at:

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