The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released an advisory opinion allowing for hospitals to pay for the creation of electronic interfaces between their EMR systems and physician offices without violating the self-referral prohibitions of the Stark law.
Specifically, a hospital system can pay for the creation of an electronic interface between unique EHR systems of individual physician practices and the hospital network’s EHR system, according to the CMS advisory opinion. The interface would allow physicians, from their practices, to order and communicate the results of tests and procedures performed.
However, the agency did stipulate certain limitations for the Physician Practice Interface, stating it:
1. Would be used only to order or communicate the results of tests and procedures furnished by the hospital system (requestor);
2. Cannot be modified to perform an alternate function; and
3. Cannot be resold, transferred or assigned by an affiliated physician practice.
CMS said its “analysis is limited to the use of the Physician Practice Interface to order or communicate results of tests and procedures furnished by the requestor. We make no determination as to compliance with the physician self-referral law should the requestor and/or the affiliated physician practices use the Physician Practice Interface for purposes other than those set forth herein.”