The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has begun conducting audits to assess whether organizations are in compliance with the reporting rules for "meaningful use" of electronic health records (EHRs).
At least one CMS contractor has begun sending audit letters to healthcare organizations to notify them that audits are upcoming. The contractor has requested several types of information and documentation from organizations as evidence that they have met the meaningful use eligibility requirements. The letters reportedly allotted two weeks for the organizations to respond to the request for documentation.
The auditors have asked for copies of the certification from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology concerning the EHR technology being used to meet the requirements of the incentive program. Secondly, the letter asks for documentation that outlines the methods being used to report emergency department admissions.
Third, organizations are to provide supporting documentation used to complete the attestation module for core set objectives and measures. Finally, the letter asks them to send in similar documentation for the attestation module responses about meeting voluntary objectives and measures. Together, these four requests are meant to provide proof that the organizations have done as they claimed.
The audit process and its results
Those organizations which are able to prove they have indeed met meaningful use standards could be eligible to receive government incentives. One law firm whose clients have begun to receive the notifications has indicated that it is unclear how the audits are being targeted, making preparation difficult.
They did say, however, that the signs so far point to a fairly straightforward desk audit rather than more intrusive procedures, which should minimize the business disruption healthcare organizations face and lower associated expenses. If a healthcare company fails to pass the audit, it may have to improve its EHR system in order to qualify for meaningful use. Loans for doctors could be helpful in financing such upgrades or alterations quickly so that any issues can be resolved.
In the meantime, experts note that organizations should be careful to ensure they do not provide too much information, since doing so could slow the process or lead to HIPAA compliance issues involving patient data.