The CMS issued an advisory opinion allowing a proposed arrangement in which a hospital system would license its custom software interface for use by its affiliated physicians. In the opinion, the systems name was removed, and the CMS warned that the opinion has no application to, and cannot be relied upon by, any other individual or entity.
The system had asked the CMS if it was legal for affiliated physicians to use the systems customized healthcare information systemwhich had been installed by a third-party vendorto order or communicate the results of laboratory tests or procedures. The CMS said that this was allowed because it did not constitute a self-referral compensation agreement. It was noted that the interface cannot be altered for another purpose and the physicians could not sell or transfer their licenses.
Despite the agency's warnings that the documents shouldn't be viewed as precedent-setting, Scott Wallacethe former president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology and currently a principal at Health Value Advisors, Chicagocalled the opinion a major decision by the CMS. Specifically, it has said that licensing of in-house systems will be treated the same as the transfer of commercially available systems for purposes of Stark compliance, Wallace said in an e-mail. Healthcare organizations that have internally developed clinical IT systems can begin to move forward and work with their community's other caregivers. -- by Andis Robeznieks