ONC Advice on Negotiating E H R Contracts

If one heeds the new recommendations laid out by Office of The National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, it is wise to enter prepared when it comes to negotiating contracts with the vendors of electronic healthcare records. This can surprisingly be a hard task. Standard kind of  E H R contracts are tricky to negotiate as the terms are usually vendor prepared. This leaves provider with scant room to negotiate. Many a time there is no choice at all. 

Tough negotiating

In case the E H R vendor shows flexibility in negotiating the contract terms, the negotiating leverage of the organization will probably depend on multiple factors. The circumstances of the company and the available resources play a major part. Negotiating skills and the standard along with alternative contract terms, all plays an important factor. The state law is also factored in. 

Guidelines were released by the ONC to coincide with the National Health IT week. The ability of the organization to negotiate changes to general form contract is dependent on a number of factors. The organization’s size or how much the E H R vendor is important plays an important role. The market share of the vendor and amount which is being spent on acquisition factor plays an important part as well.


ONC recommends that prior to negotiate the E H R contract terms, the group’s acquisition team must prepare an issue list. A negotiation matrix could also be created. This should document each initial position and also the fallback position, for every issue which arise in contract. ONC further says that legal advice is of prime importance. The group must also seek input from technical advisor. Such an activity can minimize the problems that may occur during and post the “go live” period. It could also assist the organization to anticipate future requirements- which could be additional or customizations technology from any other vendors complementing the system.

The advice given by ONC when it comes to question the E H R vendor concerning its contracting policies is to ask it during the early part of the process. It should be done prior to the business actually settling on a specific vendor. Although there is nothing wrong when it comes to signing any standard form contract, the business signing such a contract must be cognizant of all obligations and rights to which they are signing on to agreeing.

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