ONC offers help navigating complex EHR contracts, post-go-live usability

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT released an EHR contract guide and the Health IT Playbook to assist physicians with best practices and success stories.
By Mike Miliard
01:43 PM
ONC EHR contract guide

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has put out new guidance for choosing EHRs and understanding the fine print of vendor contracts.

The EHR contract guide – subtitle: Selecting Wisely, Negotiating Terms, and Understanding the Fine Print – aims to help providers that are purchasing new systems better understand the intricacies of contract language and negotiate good terms with their vendors.

The guide points toward key rights and vendor obligations that providers can stipulate in their EHR contracts, and also advises about terms to avoid. It also covers patient safety and security risks, data integrity, downtime and other scenarios that can arise after go-live. It seeks to arm providers with the knowledge necessary to enable constructive relationships with vendors  handle disagreements with vendors. 

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"Purchasing processes and contracts have an important role in ensuring information can move freely and securely across all the devices and IT systems used in patient care," said Ed Cantwell, executive director of the Center for Medical Interoperability. "This guide can help foster the dialogue between buyers and sellers to achieve that shared goal."

ONC's accompanying Health IT Playbook, meanwhile, is a web-based tool that offers clinicians guidance on specific usage topics as they put EHRs to work. It highlights best practices and success stories for system implementation; gives advice for workflow, usability and other optimization challenges, and offers guidance on HIPAA, data exchange, quality reporting and more.

"It is great to see ONC stepping up and creating the Health IT Playbook," said Steven Waldren, MD, director of American Academy of Family Physicians' Alliance for eHealth Innovation. "They have engaged family physicians to offer input during the development and we are excited to see it has launched.

"Physicians can find it difficult to keep up to date on the changing requirements for and breadth of information on health IT," he added. "The simple structure and the interactive tools provided in the Playbook will be an asset to family physicians and their practices as they continue their journey of selecting, implementing, optimizing, and switching EHRs."

Helpful advice for planning to purchase a population health platform:

⇒ Experts explain what to look for when choosing a population health platform
⇒ Comparison chart of 8 population health products 
⇒ An in-depth look at 8 population health software programs

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