Hospitals participating in the meaningful use incentive program have until Friday to respond to an 18-page, 54-question survey from HHS' Office of Inspector General that aims to assess data entry habits, security practices and other issues, HealthLeaders Media reports.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health records can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.
OIG's work plan -- which was published earlier this year -- includes "identifying fraud and abuse vulnerabilities in electronic health record systems" (Mace, HealthLeaders Media, 10/22).
The survey comes after a recent Center for Public Integrity investigation, as well as a New York Times analysis, found that EHR systems could be contributing to a rise in upcoding, which refers to the practice of selecting higher-paying treatment codes to inflate medical bills.
Last month, Attorney General Eric Holder and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to several health care and hospital associations warning that the Obama administration will not tolerate hospitals' attempts to "game the system" by using EHR systems to boost Medicare and Medicaid payments (iHealthBeat, 10/17).
Pamela McNutt -- vice chair of the policy steering committee of the College of Healthcare Information Executives and CIO at Methodist Health System in Dallas -- said at least 10 hospitals received the survey last week.
She said that the survey is "all over the place, from HIPAA privacy and security questions to coding practices, copy and paste functions and detailed questions on audit log functionality."
The survey includes questions about:
- How diagnoses and procedures are coded;
- User authorization methods;
- How physician progress notes are entered into the EHR;
- Whether patients have access to the EHR, and if so, how; and
- EHR copy and paste policies (HealthLeaders Media, 10/22).