Creating a model contract for health information exchange

Policies and technical standards are two forces in health information exchange that can oppose or complement each other.

“If you prioritize the policies they will dictate the technology choices,” said Gerry Hinkley, chairman of the HIT Practice Group for Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in San Francisco. Hinkley spoke at this week’s Health Information Technology (HIT) Symposium at MIT in Cambridge, Mass. at the HIT Symposium.

A workgroup developed a model contract for health information exchange. The scope covered a SNO participation agreement, data use agreement, and technology service/license agreement. The terms and conditions are adopted by each SNO, and tailored to that SNO’s needs. The goal was that those tailored changes wouldn’t differ much from community to community. “Common principles help to underscore trust,” Hinkley said.

The workgroup addressed the essential components of a SNO’s participation—a broad scope of agreements that may be required and its applicable terms of common framework policies and procedures. The members directed that SNOs include a mechanism for making and implementing changes. They realized that the agreements must be flexible and acknowledged the need for changes.

A main goal was creating as simple a document as possible, Hinkley said. Another important consideration was liability, disclaimers of liability and indemnification. “The healthcare community is terrified of personal liability,” Hinkley said. However, the workgroup realized that this is an issue they weren’t going to resolve right now.