HHS Office of Inspector General releases EHR Report

OIG Study Shows EHR Use in Medicare Physicians

Each cabinet department and independent agency of the federal government has an Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The office is charged with identifying, auditing, and investigating fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement within its department or agency. The OIG of Health & Human Services recently released a report, Use of Electronic Health Record Systems in 2011 Among Medicare Physicians Providing Evaluation and Management Services. The study that was reported on was done from a request by the ONC to report the use of EHR systems. The request was made in connection with a current and ongoing study evaluating the extent of documentation vulnerabilities of E/M services using EHR systems.

The study was conducted using a random sample of Medicare claims data. The data included 2,000 physicians from a population of 441,990 who provided at least 100 E/M services in 2010. The study also asked Medicare providers if they used EHR systems, what system, and whether the system was ONC-ATCB certified.

The study found that in 2011 the year the CMS EHR Incentive programs began, 57% of Medicare physicians used an EHR system at their primary location. 22% of physicians first began documenting E/M servies using EHRs that same year. Three of every four of the Medicare physicians with EHRs identified them as certified technology. And even though the systems were used for documenting E/M services, the study found they most of the E/M codes were assigned manually.

The study relies on self reported data with no request for documentation to verify. The study was conducted in accordance with the Quality Standards for Inspection and Evaluation approved by the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency. The report offers no recommendations.

Read the full 19 page report (OEI-04-10-00184) prepared for and sent to ONC Farzard Mostashari and CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.