Health IT Groups: Anti-Corruption Rules Stall Technology

According to various health IT groups, exceptions to anti-kickback laws do not do much to calm hospitals' fears about helping community physicians adopt health information technology. (

Proposed exceptions to anti-kickback laws wont be enough to allay hospitals fears about helping community physicians adopt health information technology, according to several health IT proponents and health care organizations.

The public comment period for proposed changes ended this week with the American Hospital Association, the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, the Health Information and Management System Society, and other groups saying that further changes and clarifications are necessary.

The Department of Health and Human Services has long recognized that laws designed to halt corruption also hinder the spread of health information technology.

The anti-kickback statute and Stark rules prohibits hospitals from giving physicians hardware, software or training because these resources could be used as a form of payment for referring patients to hospitals.

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However, the regulations also prevent collaborations for shared systems that could, for example, allow emergency personnel to access a patients health records or allow a community physician to see what medications a patient received during a hospital stay.

The changes,proposed by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the HHS Office of the Inspector General establish safe harbor for hospitals that help physicians set up electronic prescribing and electronic health records.

But critics said the proposed rules do not remove these barriers. For example, hospitals may not give doctors equipment that is equivalent to what they already own, but determining equivalence is not clear cut.

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