Getting Patient Data From Your EHR: What Does Your Contract Say?

TMA is hearing from members who are trying to transition to another electronic health record (EHR) system and whose vendors are charging high fees to extract patient data. It may be time to review your EHR vendor contract again.  

What happens to the patient data when you decide you want to switch vendors or retire? The contract may contain hidden fees not discussed during the negotiations but spelled out in the document. The fees for transferring data can be very expensive, sometimes reaching more than $10,000. The contract also should include terms defining how you get your data should you sever the relationship.

With these issues in mind, TMA developed EHR Buyer Beware: Issues to Consider When Contracting With EHR Vendors, a free, eight-page document featuring eight must-haves for physicians. Section four covers transferability of data. It is important to ensure the EHR data are maintained in a transferable format, and you need to know how the EHR vendor will assist in accomplishing a data transfer. 

By negotiating the terms and fees up front, you reduce the chance of surprises if you decide to terminate service with the vendor. If those negotiations occur in an email, be sure the agreed terms become part of the final contract.

You can direct questions related to EHRs and other office technologies to TMA's Health Information Technology Department by calling (800) 880-5720 or by email

Action, Sept. 1, 2016