Monitoring Potential for Up-Coding Errors in EHR with the Help of a Medical Billing Service

There has been considerable resolve and persuasion from the Federal Government to introduce Electronic Health Record System across the health care continuum. The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act has indeed given much impetus to pace of conversion from paper to electronic medium. The bait of financial incentives and penalties for complying with ‘Meaningful Use Criterion’ or otherwise has done wonders to the overall macro clinical efficiency as well physicians’ operational efficiency. In fact, no one would have foreseen the extent of transformation when the Federal Government first announced its major IT reform in 2009.

One of the significant advantages of EHR is that it has enormously simplified complex documenting during the billing process. As a result physician practices have been able manage higher level coding with far more degree of confidence than before. But, amidst all these catalytic effects of EHR, EHR is also known to have paved for errors that had not been possible with paper documentation. While EHR’s ‘cloning feature’ allows one to copy previous notes to current notes, it could also inherit errors in the previous notes or be filled with information that may not be pertinent to the current visit.

The consequence of such cloning is that it may promote coding inconsistencies or up-coding. While physicians may benefit initially with inflated reimbursements, they may be susceptible to audit later. Therefore, with their credibility at stake, they should see that EHR is utilized for the purpose it is meant for: safe and efficient patient care. Whether EHR errors come from system inadequacies or personnel incompetence during billing, physicians should actively involve themselves in resolving them through:

  • Charting reviews while processing bills through electronic systems
  • Sourcing EHR systems from vendors who promise what is right for you
  • Generating baseline CPT frequency report of your E&M services for each provider before you adopt an EHR
  • Evaluating variations in coding patterns
  • Reviewing your practice records and looking for evidence of cloning or carrying forward notes on physical exams and patient histories
  • Shutting down “auto-coder” if your EHR has one

Practically, it may seem too much to ask of physicians who are primarily motivated by clinical focus. The best recourse is to engage competent EHR consultants or medical billers and coders who offer EHR consultancy as an extended service.– with an extended capability for EHR sourcing, implementing and monitoring for physician practices of varying sizes and specialties – should practically solve all of your EHR related woes. Our strategic alliance with leading EHR vendors will help you find custom-made EHR systems that make it easy to find out cloning and up-coding even before the claim is submitted to the payers or Medicare/Medicaid.