The recommendations were developed by a team of experts and reviewed by more than 75 health care industry leaders, practitioners and organizations. The researchers worked with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

"If adopted, these recommendations will strengthen current standards and provide new efficiencies to clinicians who use electronic health records in their practices," said Dr. Robert Kolodner, ONC's National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "Updating the current criteria to include more of our recommendations will provide an opportunity to reduce costs associated with inaccurate billing and potential health care fraud."

Among the recommendations are steps to strengthen audit functions, improve patient identification and verify provider identification, thus improving efficiency and reducing the likelihood of inaccurate payments. Such steps may assist with the management of anti-fraud efforts.

Electronic health records can benefit clinicians, patients and payers by reducing human error and improper payment. They can also help detect and deter improper billing by documenting that correct procedures were used, highlighting abnormalities before they become serious issues, and providing patients with a clear understanding that their health records are being disclosed only to authorized users.

The researchers also suggest that plans need to be developed to ensure that the recommendations are implemented into the infrastructure for the nationwide health information network, which will provide the foundation for interoperable, secure and standards-based health information exchange nationally.; Source: RTI International