The federal government has a new concern to deal with – a cloning feature in electronic health records which enable physicians to cut and paste from the previous visits of patients. The cut and paste is a standard feature in all software, including EHR applications. This is said to lead to higher billing. The cloning function is a standard note-template functionality that is expected to enhance the efficiency of word processing. It is actually a routine capability in-built into all software, such as that in MS Word. It can be used to copy-paste routine exam templates such as annual physical. On the positive side, it is intended to improve the efficiency of a physician who has to take notes again and again. In addition, doctors can also monitor procedures they may otherwise overlook.
The national coordinator for health IT in the Obama administration, Dr. Farzad Mostashari is requesting an investigation into this matter, which if overlooked may result in more unnecessary expenditure for Medicare.
$ 27 billion has been set apart by the federal government to persuade providers to adopt electronic health records. The EHR system is expected to ensure better care collaboration, reduce health care costs and also facilitate better tracking of patients’ chronic conditions. However, this apparently negative component in the EHR software is a grave concern for the government. The Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder have already sent a note to hospital organizations on September 24 cautioning them against using EHRs in any fraudulent manner. They expressed their concern about up-coding that many physicians practice, charging for a higher level of care without improving the level of treatment. The EHR medical billing system is expected to improve patient safety and reduce Medicare expenditure, but legal enforcement needs to be such that medical fraud does not become rampant.
Medical billing companies can help physicians maintain a flawless EHR system, ensure accurate medical coding and billing as well as timely reimbursement.