Is Your EHR Company Holding Your Patient Data Hostage?
Here’s how to find out and what to do about it.
In the last month, we have run across two EHR vendors that are going out of business. In both cases, we have asked their customers coming to us “how are they providing you with your patient data?” In both cases, the common answer has been “I don’t know.”.
Nothing lasts forever. One day you may want (need!) a new EHR, or you may be ready to merge with another practice or retire. No matter what, you’ll be legally accountable for maintaining your complete patient data for seven years or more, depending upon your state’s laws.
But doesn’t my certified EHR have to provide me with the Continuity of Care Document (CCD) for each patient?
- Yes! However, the CCD is not a complete medical record for a patient. It is only a snapshot. Maintaining only CCDs for patients does not meet the requirement for maintaining all of your patient notes.
How can I protect myself with my current EHR?
- Read the contract – is there a provision for receiving your patient data upon contract termination? Is there a cost? Will it be supplied to you in mass or will you have to extract it yourself?
- If the contract is silent or incomplete on patient data at termination, contact your vendor and ask the above questions. Request the information in writing so you can store their answers with the contract.
- If the vendor is uncooperative, consider terminating before your contract renews (do you really want to put more data in a system that won’t give it back to you?) or at the very least bargain with the vendor at renewal to obtain a commitment on your data.
When looking for a new EHR:
- Ensure the process for patient data extraction and any associated costs are included in the contract!