News
News
8/1/2006
05:07 PM
Connect Directly
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Health Agency Gives OK For Doctors To Accept Donated Technology

The Department of Health and Human Services relaxes long-standing fraud and anti-kickback rules to let doctors accept donated systems and services. The change could speed the move to electronic health care IT.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced it was relaxing certain long-standing fraud and anti-kickback regulations to allow doctors to accept donated technology and services. This change will make it easier and less expensive for physicians to adopt electronic health record and e-prescribing systems.

Anti-fraud and abuse regulations, on the books for years, were meant to prevent doctors from receiving kickbacks from hospitals and participating in other anti-competitive behavior. However, as the federal government has pushed the nation's health-care providers into digitizing inefficient and mistake-ridden paper processes, those so-called Stark regulations have gotten in the way. Many doctors' offices—especially smaller practices—don't have the technology and financial resources to deploy interoperable e-health records and e-prescribing systems that government researchers say are needed, and the Stark rules prevent them from accepting donated assistance.

The exceptions and safe harbors announced today by HHS let physicians accept donations of e-prescribing software, e-health record systems, and training services from hospitals, health plans, and other certain entities.

A donated e-health record systems saves doctors the cost of deploying that software in their offices and improves the likelihood that most Americans will have electronic health records by 2014, a goal set by President Bush.

"Electronic health records help doctors provide higher quality patient care, improved efficiency and with less hassle," said U.S. Health Secretary Michael Leavitt during a teleconference on Tuesday announcing the exemptions. "By removing barriers, these regulation changes will help physicians get these systems in place and working for patients faster."

The exceptions, which go into effect Aug. 8, aren't without restrictions. For instance, the donated e-health record software must be certified as being interoperable with other systems, and e-prescribing software from one supplier must not restrict or limit compatibility with other e-prescribing systems.

During the teleconference, Leavitt lauded the Senate and House of Representatives in recently passing their own health IT bills that contain provisions aimed at accelerating the adoption of health-care IT.

However, Leavitt complained that the House bill contains the "flaw" of not requiring that health-care providers adopt interoperable health IT. Without that language being part of a final statute, he says, doctors and hospitals run the risk of using e-health systems that only work in closed communities.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
IT's Reputation: What the Data Says
IT's Reputation: What the Data Says
InformationWeek's IT Perception Survey seeks to quantify how IT thinks it's doing versus how the business really views IT's performance in delivering services - and, more important, powering innovation. Our results suggest IT leaders should worry less about whether they're getting enough resources and more about the relationships they have with business unit peers.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Must Reads Oct. 21, 2014
InformationWeek's new Must Reads is a compendium of our best recent coverage of digital strategy. Learn why you should learn to embrace DevOps, how to avoid roadblocks for digital projects, what the five steps to API management are, and more.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
A roundup of the top stories and trends on InformationWeek.com
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.