|EMR Home | Overview | Platform | Tablet vs Desktop | Costs | Requirements | Vendor | Selection I | Selection II | Demo | Contract | Rollout | Evaluation | Resources|
EMR Contracts, the Nitty-Gritty
So You’ve Finally Decided on an EMR
Now you’re ready to talk turkey with your EMR vendor. Like any legal contract, EMR contracts should be reviewed very carefully by an experienced lawyer before you sign your life away on the dotted line. We’re all aware of horror stories of physicians wasting tens of thousands of dollars on an EMR that wasn’t right for them, or didn’t include features that were advertised.
First to consider is the duration of the contract. How long are you going to be working with this company? Most contracts stipulate a contract of at least one year. Longer may be better in terms of price, and prices may be negotiable, so consider this when signing your contract.
See one, Do one, Teach one
How will the training of your staff be performed? How many days will they expect you to close your practice to be trained? Will they train you after hours or on weekends? Where will the training be done, at your office (will you pay their travel expenses?) or theirs? If supplemental training needs to be done, who will help with that and at what cost?
Who’s Going to Support You?
Make sure your contract spells out who is responsible for support. If you purchased your EMR from a VAR (value added reseller) will your support be done by the VAR or the EMR vendor? What is the timeframe for return of calls? Do they have suppor on weekends or after hours? Do they have Live Support? What are their hours (are they on EST or PST?) Do these hours fit with your office schedule? Do they use remote desktop software such as “GotoMyPC” or other similar solutions so they can remotely either control your desktop to show you functions or to install software?
Back Me Up
How do they perform backups of your data? Or do they expect you do perform backups? Are these done hourly, daily? How are they archived? Where are they stored? Is there a separate charge for this service? Is the backup going to be given to you on a physical media (DVD, Tape backup) and at who’s expense?
Ownership of Data
Who owns the EMR data? This is like ownership of a computer chart. What happens if you terminate the contract? Will there be a charge for you to get your data out? You want to make sure that your practice retains ownership of all patient data.
Hip Hip HIPAA
Given all the recent buzz about patient privacy, you need to be sure that your EMR vendor will do everything they can to comply with all HIPAA related rules regarding patient data. They probably should have a signed statement stating they will comply with HIPAA. The last thing you need is for the EMR company to sell or disclose your patient information with someone else without your knowledge.
What if it’s like Silicon Valley circa 2000?
If your EMR company is relatively small or new, you’ll want to be sure of a few things. Does your contract spell out who will be responsible for the support of the service if they go bankrupt? Does it spell out what will happen if they are acquired by another EMR vendor? Make sure the contract includes that software will be placed in escrow, for the end users to use, modify, and update as they see fit. This ensures that at least you should be able to run your EMR software if your vendor goes belly up, at least long enough for you to hire a programmer to export all your data into another EMR.
Get it in Writing.
Say your EMR is lacking a feature you really need, like growth charts, or orthopedics templates, or any other custom work the vendor is offering if you choose their EMR. The sales team may say “sure we can do that” when it comes to getting you to sign on the dotted line, but make sure that every single feature, pricing promotion, support suggestion, link to your practice management software, or other idea you have is added onto your contract as an addendum. You may even decide to condition payment and rollout of the EMR on delivery of specific features. That will ensure you get what you want when it comes to rolling your EMR out.