Every EMR available in the industry, regardless whether it’s a free EMR or not, has to have a selling feature or what I like to call price point. Many EMR vendors have developed free EMRs and few of them are giving the big guns a good run for their money. The question is whether a free EMR can live up to the frenzy that the word ’free’ brings with it.
The first thing which you would need to get your hands on has to be the end user license agreement. That’s where the catch lies, because every service that will be or won’t be incorporated within your free EMR will be expressly stated in the license agreement. Many EMR vendors prefer to have a ’’sign up, click and proceed’’ agreement, rather than your customary complex agreement. What physicians need to understand is that upon signature, the free EMR end user license agreement will be the main controlling factor between the practice and EMR vendor relationship. All obligations and deliverables for both parties will be described therein – the term of the agreement and the rights of usage. In shorter words, carefully review the scope of the license, warranties, liabilities, support and other miscellaneous requirements.
The scope of the end user license agreement highlights the means of use, distribution and reproduction that a user has with a free EMR. Many EMR vendors state their charges for additional fees, user restrictions and scheduled trainings. If care delivery is the prime motive behind developing a free EMR, vendors should consider providing an uninterrupted non-exclusive license with the luxury to use the free EMR at any location.
The thorn in your back has to be the infringement, liability and warranty disclaimers. These bad boys will tell you that the free EMR is as good as any other and will perform magnificently or that the free EMR vendor can transfer the license to another provider, or it can bring you pots of gold, etc. It’s not that physicians are aware of such representations, it’s the legalese which camouflages such disclaimers and makes physicians look like elementary school rejects. Every now and then, you will hear a physician complaining on how his free EMR vendor screwed him over. Since the vendor has countless variables to address, playing with words is the only option.
Support clauses, implementation scenarios, training, upgrades, service level agreements, PHI security protocols, end user liabilities and a whole range of issues have to be clearly read and well understood before signing on the dotted line. The only way a physician can negotiate all these items is by hiring an industry specific legal advisor. The healthcare industry is short on legal advisors who are well versed with the do’s and don’ts while executing EMR license agreements. Maybe it’s time for governing bodies to mandate a corporate counsel for both sides.