On November 29, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a report on the oversight of the EHR Incentive Program by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The report, “Early Assessment Finds That CMS Faces Obstacles in Overseeing the Medicare EHR Incentive Program,” was gleaned from a review of CMS’s oversight of the first year of the program and analyzed self-reported information from eligible professionals and hospitals, and cited obstacles in the oversight of meaningful use (MU) requirements by CMS. The report stated that CMS had “not implemented strong prepayment safeguards and its ability to safeguard incentive payments postpayment is also limited.”

OIG issued several recommendations for CMS as well as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). OIG recommended that CMS:

  • Obtain and review supporting documentation from selected professionals and hospitals prior to payment to verify the accuracy of their self-reported information, and;
  • Issue guidance with specific examples of documentation that professionals and hospitals should maintain to support their compliance

CMS did not concur with the first recommendation, “stating that prepayment reviews would increase the burden on practitioners and hospitals and could delay incentive payments. We continue to recommend that CMS conduct prepayment reviews to improve program oversight.”  CMS concurred with the second recommendation.

For ONC, OIG recommended that it:

  • Require that certified EHR technology be capable of producing reports for yes/no MU measures where possible, and;
  • Improve the certification process for EHR technology to ensure accurate EHR reports.

ONC concurred with both recommendations.

CMS and ONC won’t be able to turn these recommendations on overnight and there may be unintended burdens associated with cost, time, and incentive payment delays to eligible professionals and eligible hospitals.  HIMSS supports CMS developing compliance documentation guidelines that will help providers and hospitals prepare and retain the necessary documentation for any future Meaningful Use audits.

This story was provided by HIMSS and can be found here.