K. Drabiak and J. Wolfson
Whether physicians are being trained or encouraged to commit fraud within corporatized organizational cultures through contractual incentives (or mandates) to optimize billing and process more patients is unknown. What is known is that upcoding and misrepresentation of clinical information (fraud) costs more than $100 billion annually and can result in unnecessary procedures and prescriptions. This article proposes fraud mitigation strategies that combine organizational cultural enhancements and deployment of transparent compliance and risk management systems that rely on front-end data analytics.
Fraud in Health Care
Growth in corporatization and profitization in medicine, insurance company payment rules, and government regulation have fed natural proclivities, even among physicians, to optimize profits and reimbursements (Florida Department of Health, oral communication, September 2019). According to the most recent Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program Annual Report, in one case a management company “pressured and incentivized” dentists to meet specific production goals through a system that disciplined “unproductive” dentists and awarded cash bonuses tied to the revenue from procedures—including many allegedly medically unnecessary services—they performed. This has come at a price: escalating costs, fraud and abuse, medically unnecessary services, adverse effects on patient safety, and physician burnout.
Breaking the cycle of bad behaviors that are induced in part by financial incentives speaks to core ethical issues in the practice of medicine that can be addressed through a combination of organizational and cultural enhancements and more transparent practice-based compliance and risk management systems that rely on front-end data analytics designed to identify, flag, and focus investigations on fraud and abuse at the practice site. Here, we discuss types of health care fraud and their impact on health care costs and patient safety, how this behavior is incentivized and justified within current and evolving medical practice settings, and a 2-pronged strategy for mitigating this behavior.
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