Radiologists and imaging centers are often asked to make the diagnostic studies they perform available to an ordering physician through the physician’s electronic health records (EHR) system. The difficulty in accommodating these requests stems in part from the sheer variety of EHR and RIS/PACS systems. In most circumstances, some type of software interface, and possibly hardware, is required to connect the two systems. Someone has to purchase this hardware and software, of course.
While it may make good business sense for an imaging center or radiology practice to provide and pay for software upgrades necessary for the RIS/PACS to interface with the EHR or to install hardware, such as viewing stations, in the ordering physician’s office, these types of arrangements can raise significant regulatory issues. Federal and state laws prohibit radiologists and imaging centers from offering referring physicians something of value in return for ordering diagnostic tests. Because software upgrades and computer hardware provide real value to ordering physicians, these types of arrangements should be carefully considered under the relevant federal and state law.
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