Audit Finds CMS Needs Better Quality Oversight Before Paying Meaningful Use Incentives

CMS faces obstacles to overseeing the Medicare Electronic Health Record Incentive Program, leaving the program vulnerable to paying incentives to professionals and hospitals that do not fully meet the meaningful use requirements, according to an audit conducted by HHS' Office of Inspector General.

Since professionals and hospitals self-report data to demonstrate that they meet program requirements, CMS' efforts to verify that data quality will help ensure the integrity of Medicare electronic health record incentive payments, according to the report. For this reason, the study was conducted to assess CMS' oversight of the program in its early stages.

The study reviewed CMS' oversight of professionals' and hospitals' self-reported meaningful use of certified EHR technology in 2011, the first year of the program.

OIG's audit found that CMS has not implemented strong prepayment safeguards, and its ability to safeguard incentive payments postpayment is also limited.

In order to address these issues, OIG made several recommendations:

1. CMS should obtain and review supporting documentation from selected professionals and hospitals prior to payment to verify the accuracy of their self-reported information.

2. CMS should issue guidance with specific examples of documentation that professionals and hospitals should maintain to support their compliance.

3. ONC should require that certified EHR technology be capable of producing reports for yes or no meaningful use measures where possible.

4. ONC should improve the certification process for EHR technology to ensure accurate EHR reports.

According to the report, CMS has put the second recommendation into effect, and ONC has concurred with both of CMS' documentation examples.

More Articles on Medicare EHR Incentive Program:

Meaningful Use Deadline for Registration, Attestation in FY 2012 is Nov. 30
CMS: $8.35B in Meaningful Use Payments to Date; Hospital Registration Up 60%
CMS Releases Potential Stage 3 Measures for EHR Incentive Programs

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