HHS' inspector general's office cleared the way for a hospital in an underserved area to provide community physicians and practices with free access to an interface that connects their respective electronic health-record systems.
The unnamed hospital, which operates in a federally designated health-professional shortage area, would provide the interface—used to send laboratory and diagnostic services orders and receive results—to any physician who requested it and would cover the cost of related support services, according to the inspector general's office's advisory opinion (PDF)
. The hospital would not, however, cover the cost of the physicians' EHR systems.
The hospital had asked the inspector general's office to weigh in on whether the move would violate a federal anti-kickback statute. The office found that because the interface serves no other function that would benefit a participating physician or practice it is not considered to be remuneration, it would not.