Concerns that widespread electronic health record use could lead to fraudulent coding and billing practices are unfounded, according to a new University of Michigan study. The study, led by Dr. Julia Adler-Milstein, assistant professor of health management and policy, analyzed longitudinal data to determine whether U.S. hospitals that had recently adopted electronic health records had billed and received greater payments from Medicare compared to similar hospitals that did not adopt. The results are published in the July issue of Health Affairs.
[Photo: Dr. Julia Adler-Milstein]
The authors found that adopters of electronic medical records and non-adopters increased their billing to Medicare at essentially identical rates. “There have been a lot of anecdotes and individual cases of hospitals using electronic health records in fraudulent ways. Therefore there was an assumption that this was happening systematically, but we find that it is not,” said Dr. Adler-Milstein. The results suggest that policy intervention to reduce fraud is not the best use of resources, and that policy makers should focus more on efforts to reduce health care spending and improve quality of care through electronic health records.