by Elizabeth Casey Halley RN, MBA FHIMSS eNurse Mentor with HIMSS former Chair, HIMSS Nursing Informatics Committee
Over the years, it has been a privilege to participate, alongside my nursing informatics colleagues, in efforts to support and promote the integration of electronic health records to improve healthcare. I have been heartened in recent years to see the healthcare community at large recognize the value, opportunities and potential of EHRs.
Understandably then, I was disappointed to read a number of recent articles on the potential abuses of EHRs (including the New York Times: Medicare Bills Rise as Records Turn Electronic, Modern Healthcare: Hospitals Warned on EHR-Related Payment Fraud and Healthcare IT News: Providers respond to Holder, Sebelius on ‘troubling indications’ of EHR fraud).
Given the fraud risk posed by adopting EHRs described in these articles, we, in the informatics community, have an obligation to reiterate and reinforce the right reasons for implementing interoperable EHRs, and do our best to ensure EHRs do not become the an opportunity to perpetrate fraud.
In 2011, HHS established the National Quality Strategy to achieve better care, healthy people and communities, and affordable care in the United States. These are the goals we aspire to. These are the right reasons to implement EHRs. EHRs help us achieve these goals by providing consumers, providers, care givers and payers access to more complete health information, which in turn reduces errors and saves lives.
Anyone who intentionally uses EHRs to fraudulently bill for payments they are not entitled to should indeed be prosecuted. As we venture deeper into a world infused with electronic health information, we must keep our attention focused on learning from and improving upon the processes being transformed. To keep EHRs on track, it behooves us to devote efforts to risk mitigation so as not to let opportunities for fraud derail what has already been accomplished and the promise of what the future holds.
Further, in the midst of these recent concerns, we must not lose sight of – indeed we must acknowledge and support – all the providers and stakeholders who are investing in and working hard to transform healthcare through EHRs for the right reasons.
Contact Elizabeth Casey Halley RN, MBA, FHIMSS, at firstname.lastname@example.org, at The MITRE Corporation, Center for Transforming Health.