HHS’ OIG Refocuses Scrutiny of EHRs in Updated 2015 Work Plan

June 11, 2015 in News

HHS’ Office of Inspector General’s updated 2015 work plan includes new focus areas to increase the agency’s scrutiny of electronic health records, but removes other items that had been under review, FierceEMR reports (Durben Hirsch, FierceEMR, 6/8).

OIG released is original 2015 work plan in November 2014 (iHealthBeat, 11/5/14).

Details of Updated Work Plan

Under the updated plan, OIG for the first time will review accountable care organizations’ use of EHRs (FierceEMR, 6/8).

Specifically, OIG said it would review the extent to which Medicare Shared Savings Program ACO participants use EHRs to:

  • Exchange data to achieve care coordination goals; and
  • Identify best practices for and potential barriers to achieving interoperability (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 6/10).

Meanwhile, OIG said it would retain other EHR-related focus areas, including:

  • Hospital compliance with EHR contingency planning under HIPAA requirements (FierceEMR, 6/8);
  • Whether meaningful use incentive recipients were eligible for such payments; and
  • Whether covered entities are sufficiently guarding protected health information created or maintained by certified EHR technology (iHealthBeat, 11/5/14).

Under the 2009 economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR systems can qualify for Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments.

However, OIG’s updated work plan excludes several priorities that were in the original version. For example, the work plan no longer includes reviews of:

  • CMS’ oversight of hospitals’ security controls regarding networked medical devices that are integrated with EHR systems; and
  • Whether business associates — such as downstream service providers — are sufficiently protecting PHI maintained by certified EHR technology.

According to the work plan, the items were removed because they have been completed, postponed or canceled (FierceEMR, 6/8).

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