IRS gives physician EMR donations the OK

Non-profit hospitals across the U.S. got a gift this week from the IRS, which ruled once and for all they can safely donate EMR systems and related support services to affiliated doctors. Many of these hospitals have looked at giving doctors with staff privileges EMR systems, rather than waiting until the physicians were ready to invest themselves. However, until last week it wasn't clear whether the IRS saw such donations as providing "private benefit," something that could endanger a hospital's tax-exempt status. HHS already came forward last year with rules that explicitly allowed for such donations, but the IRS has lagged on the issue.

The new IRS ruling notes that when hospitals make such a donation, they must follow the related HHS rules, too; that hospitals must have access to all records created by the physicians whenever possible; and that all medical staff members have the same access to the same donation levels (or if donations differ, that hospitals must justify the differences in terms of community needs).

To learn more about the ruling:
- read this Health Data Management item
- read the IRS ruling (.pdf)

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