Is Your EHR Company Holding Your Patient Data Hostage?
- September 11, 2018
Are you ready to change to a new EHR system for your medical practice? At some point, you may want or need to make that switch. Whatever your reason for moving to a new system, you have a legal obligation to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your complete patient data for seven years or more, depending on your state’s laws.
Many EHR companies charge an excessive fee to retrieve YOUR patients’ data, if you decide to move on. Usually, this fee is not spelled out in the agreement. It is rare for an EHR provider to incorporate a way within its software to export patient demographics and notes without their assistance. Though the agreement will state the data belongs to you, when you ask for the data, you’ll be charged thousands of dollars in an attempt to hold your data captive and discourage you from switching to another EHR system.
The best way to avoid being held hostage in future EHR system purchases is to select an EHR vendor with a proven track record of delivering the services you need. Before choosing your next vendor, know your exit options. You can minimize the risk of being held hostage by a vendor by negotiating the following:
- Negotiate a provision that requires the vendor to hand over the records within a reasonable time after termination of the contract.
- Negotiate a liquidated damage provision in the event the vendor does not release the data timely.
- Almost all EHR companies will have a charge to retrieve the data; negotiate that cost. Some vendors may give you your data for free, but you won’t be able to use it. Include a provision in the agreement that states that you will receive the data in a “usable” format for your new vendor.
- Require the vendor to give you a weekly or monthly backup of all of your records, which you keep in your possession.
In the end, it’s your patients’ data. It is your right to move from one software program to another without unreasonable payment penalties. Although legal counsel or consultants can be expensive, it’s risky to go through EHR contract negotiations without their expertise. While many vendor contracts are reasonable, the costs of agreeing to a flawed arrangement can outweigh any fees you incur. Switching to a new EHR system can be stressful enough; don’t let your current vendor make it more difficult than it needs to be.