Technology is an integral part of modern health care. But how can you pursue the best possible deal from your technology vendor? Larry Chu, MD, a member of the Texas Medical Association’s Committee on Health Information Technology, says you need to sweat the details of your vendor contract.
“Even though much time has been invested in selecting the technology product, do not neglect the contract terms,” said Dr. Chu, an Austin otolaryngologist. “The devil is in the contract details, and it’s important to understand what you are agreeing to before you sign on the dotted line.”
A few modifications to your contract can help you avoid much of the risk associated with buying technology. Here are 10 factors to consider:
- Version protection: Many vendors discontinue software – only to resell you the newer version. Instead, the vendor should provide you with future releases, system updates, and new versions at no additional cost. You likely will pay annual licensing fees that should cover software upgrades.
- Government mandates: The vendor should stay in compliance with all government mandates and modify its software accordingly at no cost. This includes electronic health record (EHR) certification requirements.
- Tech support: Stipulate in your contract that support fees cannot increase by more than the consumer price index.
- Contract validity: Ensure the contract is not valid until the vendor meets your acceptance requirements – such as the system operating as promised.
- Warranty: Ensure the vendor will correct any malfunctions at its expense and will waive support fees throughout the correction period.
- Malfunctions: Insist that malfunctions not corrected within an agreed-upon time result in a full refund.
- Source code: The vendor should put the source code – the programming language that makes the program work – into an escrow account. Additionally, EHR vendors cannot block or terminate your access to your patients’ information. Know your rights.
- Transferability: The vendor should allow you to assign or transfer your contract to a new owner.
- Additional users: Ensure you can add future users at a reduced cost.
- Protection: Cybersecurity protection for the product should be at the vendor’s expense.
TMA members have access to no-cost technology contract reviews from TMA-approved vendor Coker Group. In addition, Coker offers a discount to members who use its services to negotiate contract terms. If you’re interested in learning more, or have a technology contract ready for review, begin by filling out this brief questionnaire.
Also, TMA offers numerous resources to assist in EHR selection, including a comparison tool of the most-used product in Texas, on its EHR resource page.
For more information on any of these technology services, contact TMA by email or by calling (800) 880-7955.
Last Updated On
April 13, 2022
Originally Published On
April 13, 2022