The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has issued new guidance on EHR contract negotiations to help HIPAA covered entities avoid some of the common problems experienced when selecting, negotiating, and implementing new EHR systems.
The new guidance on EHR contract negotiations – EHR Contracts Untangled: Selecting Wisely, Negotiating Terms, and Understanding the Fine Print – is intended to help HIPAA covered entities negotiate better terms with EHR vendors and understand the fine print of contracts.
Vendors often provide healthcare organizations with standard contracts which suit the vendor, but may not suit the covered entity. EHR systems may fail to meet expectations or result in data blocking, interoperability issues, and additional costs being incurred.
The guidance includes examples of contract language and explains important EHR concepts which should help healthcare professionals communicate their needs and requirements more effectively to EHR vendors. Advise is also provided to help covered entities negotiate the best terms and manage risk more effectively.
The guidance on EHR contract negotiations does not contain a comprehensive set of instructions, but does touch on a number of important issues that need to be considered when selecting a new EHR system and negotiating terms and conditions with vendors. The guidance covers safety and security of EHR systems, interoperability, intellectual property, risk management, liability, data rights, ensuring data is always available, resolving disagreements with vendors, and provides advice on switching EHR vendors. The new guidance also explains many complex contract terms in easy to understand language.
The guidance is essential reading for organizations that are planning on acquiring their first EHR system, as well as those looking to upgrade their system or change vendor. The guidance has been written specifically for electronic health record systems, although the principles outlined in the guidance can be applied to negotiating contracts for other IT products.
The ONC has also expanded its health IT playbook to include more resources to assist healthcare organizations get the most out of health IT products and get them to work effectively and efficiently.