Ohio medical society pushes doctor-friendly EMR pacts
■ A program will recognize companies that adopt simplified contract language.
By Dave Hansen — Posted Nov. 26, 2007
Washington -- The Ohio State Medical Assn. plans to launch a campaign on Jan. 1 recognizing electronic medical record vendors that use language vetted by the association for simplicity.
"Doctors were concerned one of the barriers to adopting EMRs was the whole contracting process. Small practices don't have access to anyone who can help them pick one," said OSMA Senior Director Carol Wright Mullinax. "So we make vendor contracts more physician friendly."
OSMA is concerned that physicians unwittingly could sign contracts with flaws, such as the IT company not being required to pay refunds if implementation fails, said association spokesman David Owens. The Coker Group, a national medical consulting firm based in Alpharetta, Ga., devised the proposed contract language for the OSMA.
To qualify for the Standards of Excellence designation, a vendor would have to amend its contracts with an approved list of provisions written to "guarantee that physician rights are protected in the contracting process," explained the OSMA.
The Coker Group assembled the proposed list based on provisions that clients found common and important, said Senior Consultant Sue Hertlein. "These are terms we deal with on a weekly basis," she said.
For example, physicians want to pay health information technology companies in installments, with payment occurring when important milestones of the EMR system, such as going live, are reached, she said. Physicians also want transferable user licenses that retiring physicians could sell along with their practices. "Having transferability is key," she explained.
Placing a ceiling on annual increases in maintenance fees also is important, she added. "Sometimes they increased by 15% in the second year," Hertlein said. The proposed OSMA language would limit annual increases to 3% above the Consumer Price Index.
HIT companies participating in the program also would have to be certified by the Certification Commission for Healthcare Technology. The vendors would offer association members a discount on their products, added OSMA President Craig W. Anderson, MD. The discount has not yet been determined, Owens said.
The association is not endorsing vendors, Hertlein emphasized.
Owens declined to identify the HIT companies because contract talks are ongoing, but he described them as "the more well-known EMR player names."
The OSMA developed the plan after a state EMR conference in March 2007. "We let the vendors know we were thinking about this," Wright Mullinax stated. The association submitted a list of contract terms to the vendors and awaits a response.