Healthcare IT Sourcing: 5 Things to Know Before You Purchase Cloud EHR

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from NPI, a spend management consultancy, focused on delivering savings in the areas of IT, telecom, supply chain transportation and energy.

Nearly every industry out there is eyeing cloud-based technologies for implementation in 2012. This is especially true of the healthcare industry, where rising IT costs and new compliance requirements are pushing healthcare organizations to consider cloud-based electronic healthcare record (EHR) solutions.

If you're involved in healthcare IT sourcing and implementation, there are several things you can do to protect your IT budget. Here are five contract "must do's" to consider before you purchase any cloud EHR solution:

  1. Users & Functionality: Get rid of minimum purchase clauses, but make sure your vendor can ramp up as business demands increase.
  2. Data Protection: Establish data ownership, confidentiality and protection. This includes who owns the data, data migration procedures and costs, as well as disaster recovery and backup. How a vendor continues service in the event of a crisis/disaster is extremely important. Specify how often data is backed up, in what format and how backups are stored. Be sure to include a transition assistance clause in case you want to move your data to another provider.
  3. Upgrades & Renewals: Many companies assume upgrades and renewals are a non-issue in hosted solutions. Think again. Confirm the cost in your contract. Additionally, be sure to address renewal rates in your contract by inserting language that limits or prevents renewal rate increases.
  4. Performance: When transitioning to a hosted model, you are consequently outsourcing performance quality assurance. Therefore, you need to determine service level guarantees and performance metrics in your contract. These should address application availability uptime, performance monitoring, security, support response time and help desk accessibility (among other things). Buyers should also define grounds for termination and transition assistance (to a new provider) for unacceptable performance.
  5. Vendor Health, Risk Assessment & Auditing: Demand and perform due diligence on vendor health.

-- Jeff Muscarella, EVP of IT, NPI

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