GAO recommends CMS improve meaningful use verification requirements

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Officials at the Government Accountability Office (GAO) made a series of recommendations to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) on how hospitals are assessed against meaningful use criteria, reports Healthcare IT News.

Of the four suggestions outlined by the GAO, officials at the CMS agreed with three of them. The first point dealt with establishing a timeframe for evaluating the effectiveness of healthcare facilities’ audit processes. The GAO also recommended that the CMS collect additional information from hospitals attesting to meaningful use of medical informatics systems during evaluations. Additional pre-payment reporting verifications were also outlined as a way for the CMS to improve the attestation process.

However, officials at the CMS disagreed with the GAO’s fourth recommendation, that the CMS should offer states the option of collecting attestation data on behalf of regional reporting authorities.

The CMS indicated that internal audits into the effectiveness of existing reporting and assessment procedures would be carried out in response to the GAO’s suggestions. Such audits are intended to measure how many healthcare providers have been awarded financial incentives based on incorrect or incomplete data.

According to Information Week, many healthcare providers are incapable of successfully demonstrating meaningful use of medical informatics systems due to the lengthy and complicated reporting measures involved. Smaller practices and individual clinicians are particularly affected by the restrictions of the attestation process.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that while 51 percent of office-based physicians intended to attest to meaningful use last year, only 11 percent had clinical informatics solutions that could successfully meet the CMS’ requirements.

Results of the CDC’s National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey indicated that very few physicians were using medical informatics technology with sufficient computational power to meet 10 or more of the 15 core modules required for meaningful use attestation.