ONC Releases Guide for Negotiating EHR Contracts
While the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) in hospitals and physicians’ offices is becoming ubiquitous, complications such as hidden fees and disputes over securing protected health information (PHI) within systems are as well.
To help providers better navigate the intricacies of purchasing and implementing EHRs and enable them to negotiate realistic contracts, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has released an easy-to-understand guide called “EHR Contracts Untangled: Selecting Wisely, Negotiating Terms, and Understanding the Fine Print.” The guide explains important concepts in EHR contracts and includes example contract language to help providers and health administrators in planning to acquire an EHR system and negotiating contract terms with vendors, according to a US Department of Health and Human Services press release.
It is designed to help buyers of health IT better understand and communicate their requirements to potential vendors, negotiate appropriate contract terms, and consider and manage the risks that may arise in the purchase, implementation, and use of an EHR, according to HHS.
The guide, which was written under contract for ONC by three lawyers, provides some examples of implementation and EHR purchasing decisions that have wrought havoc for some unlucky providers. In one case, according to the guide, “a small rural primary care provider was taken by surprise when it discovered that it had been locked out of its cloud-based EHR. A dispute over the provider’s refusal to pay maintenance fees resulted in the EHR vendor deploying disabling technology that prevented the provider from looking up the medical histories of its 4,000 patients.”