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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality
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How Do I Assess and Procure the Health IT Functionalities and Tools?

To assess what health IT functionalities are needed, you should carefully consider the intended purpose of the health IT implementation.  The decision to implement an EHR with particular functionalities, such as e-Prescribing or CDS, can be motivated by various clinical and business considerations.  Your decision may also be influenced by the incentive payments of the EHR Incentive Program (also known as Meaningful Use).  Incentive payments and timelines available for eligible providers in Medicare and Medicaid incentive programs vary.  If you participate in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, you must demonstrate Meaningful Use of your EHR system to receive incentive payments.  If you participate in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, you can receive incentive payments for adopting, implementing, upgrading, or demonstrating Meaningful Use of your EHR system.

Selecting a Vendor

In order to participate in the EHR Incentive Program, you need an EHR technology that is certified as meeting the Office of the National Coordination for Health IT (ONC’s) standards and regulations.  Certified systems and products will ensure that your EHR system is secure, can maintain data confidentiality, will work with other systems to share information, and can perform the functions needed to demonstrate Meaningful Use for Stage 1 (2011 to 2012, the first years of the program).  Systems that receive this certification will be posted on the ONC Certified EHR Products List go to exit disclaimer.  If you already have an EHR system that does not meet these requirements, you will need to upgrade your system to be eligible for these incentives. Be sure to check this list as you choose or upgrade your system.  Once a decision has been made to move forward with your purchase or upgrade, you should conduct an assessment of certified vendors to determine how their products will help you demonstrate Meaningful Use and meet any other clinical and business needs you have identified.

Related Resources:

Rural Health IT Adoption Toolbox: Health IT Selection and Implementation in Rural Settings, Vendor Assessment – This HRSA module provides information and resources to help you determine how your institution will be influenced and impacted by the addition of technology.

ONC EHR Standards and Certification  – This ONC webpage provides the rule that identifies the standards, certification programs and criteria for the certification of EHR technology so eligible professionals and hospitals are assured that the systems they adopt are capable of performing the required functions.

Certified EHR Products List go to exit disclaimer – ONC’s list of the EHR technologies that have been certified for the EHR Incentive Program and the names of the vendors of these technologies.

Negotiating a Contract

After you have selected a vendor, the next step is negotiating a contract.  The contract negotiation process is an opportunity to define expectations of the parties involved, including the services to be provided and an established price. You should ensure that the following components are included in a vendor contract:

  • licensing terms
  • payment terms
  • system testing
  • training
  • service-level agreements and system availability
  • maintenance terms
  • availability of updates to the system as new features or functionalities become available
  • legal, compliance, and regulatory information, and termination clauses

Related Resources:

Rural Health IT Adoption Toolbox: Write and Negotiate a Vendor Contract – This HRSA module provides information on how to write and negotiate a vendor contract.

EMR Vendor Selection Process go to exit disclaimer – This article describes the selection process for choosing a preferred vendor(s) and negotiating a final contract.

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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