Health Information Management

Will EHR study reduce government concerns of overdocumentation?

APCs Insider, July 18, 2014

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The ease of copy-and-paste and lack of guidance from CMS regarding electronic health records (EHRs) are some of the major compliance risks facing providers, according to the Office of Inspector General (OIG) in its latest semiannual report.

Despite these potential problems, a new study found no evidence hospitals are systematically using EHRs to increase Medicare reimbursements. While hospitals that adopted EHRs increased billing to Medicare, it was at a comparable rate to hospitals using paper records, according to the study in Health Affairs. The study compared records from 393 hospitals using EHR with 782 hospitals using paper records.

"Our findings should reduce concerns that EHR adoption by itself will increase the costs of hospital care," the authors, Julia Adler-Milstein and Ashish K. Jha, concluded.

“This study is welcome news for the nation’s hospitals and policymakers, allowing them to shift focus to optimizing use of EHRs to improve patient care,” said Chantal Worzala, AHA director of IT policy.

Regardless of the study's results, OIG's advice is probably beneficial to CMS and providers. The OIG report found that only about 25% of hospitals have official policy regarding copying-and-pasting in EHRs.

Having clear guidance on copy-and-paste from CMS, for both providers and EHR contractors, will make it easier for hospitals to educate staff on proper use and likely reduce the opportunities for accidental overdocumenting.

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