Be Careful About EHR/PM Vendor Contracts & Terms

Caveat Emptor!

These two words speak volumes for a Medical Practice or Group when considering purchasing a PM / EMR / EHR System. The buyer must be aware of the tactics and beware of the business practices that some Vendors are using to win business.

Acquire ALL documents that are required to execute the business relationship before any are signed.  Documents may include the following but are not limited to:

  • Project Description Overview: This is normally a document which outlines the steps, actions and processes that will be performed to install a PM / EMR / EHR system into a medical entity.
  • eQuote / Quote / Proposal: No matter which name is used, this is the itemized cost document. Depending on the vendor this document will require a signature.
  • Terms and Conditions: This could be part of the eQuote / Quote / Proposal but it could be separate. A signature might or might not be required.
  • Software Licensee Agreement (For Vendors who license the Software to run on the Customer’s server) or Service and License Agreement (For Vendors who offer a Hosted or Online version of the Software on a subscription basis). These documents are the holy grail of all the documents. They will disclose in specific and concise detail the responsibilities and liabilities of each party (Vendor and Customer).  Make sure that the contents of the RFP that the Vendor has completed are included as an exhibit in the Agreement.  Vendors will sometimes promise things in the RFP that they do not cover in the Agreement, and this is a way to avoid unpleasant surprises.

If you are considering using vendor supplied financing, be sure to obtain and review the documents related to it, prior to signing any sales agreement.  This is especially important if the terms of financing the EHR system are important in making the overall purchase decision, to assure the best ROI.

Beware of Vendors that initially only provide some selected documents, BUT not all essential ones. This maybe an attempt to commit the customer at best, at worst it is a deceitful business practice.

It is also important to make sure the vendor is contractually committed to updating its software for meeting the meaningful use criteria.  Otherwise, you many make a major investment and not qualify for the incentives in the HITECH Act.

Remember, have ALL Documents reviewed by an either an attorney or your EHR Consultants. Consider also any tax benefits / claims.  Beware of Vendors who present a Pre Implementation Assessment Fee.  This process is designed to collect fees BEFORE the Implementation Process starts.  Essentially the Vendor is charging the Customer to pay for a glorified quote / estimate.

Transformative Technology! Let us know if you are interested in a free webinar on selecting and implementing an EMR/EHR system.

The most important thing to remember is whatever system you buy, this will be among the most expensive items that your organization will buy. Additionally it will affect and dominate your business activities from the moment you and your staff get in the morning to the moment you leave at the end of the day – and even after hours when you are on call! The majority of users are happy and satisfied with their systems since they do help them work more effectively, and can increase quality and profits. Of course the opposite is obvious, some systems are shut down after large investments.  A failed installation can be avoided with due diligence research and with the advice of individuals who are looking out for your best interest.

When you need proven expertise and performance

Jim Hook, MPH

Mr. James D. Hook has over 30 years of healthcare executive management and consulting experience in medical groups, hospitals, IPA’s, MSO’s, and other healthcare organizations.