The shift to electronic medical records continues to have trouble. The New York Times reports that the federal government is doling out big money to doctors and hospitals for making the switch without properly ensuring that their new systems are up to snuff. As a result, federal investigators warn in a new report that Medicare—the agency providing the incentive money—is "vulnerable" to fraud.
Doctors can get $44,000 and hospitals $2 million for switching to an electronic system, providing they verify it meets minimum "meaningful use" requirements. The problem is that Medicare isn't doing a thorough job in making sure that they do, say the investigators. So far, about 75,000 health care professionals and 1,300 hospitals have received money, part of an estimated $7 billion Medicare expects to spend over five years. The critical report comes after the Times reported in September that electronic records make it easier for doctors and hospitals to overbill Medicare.