The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology this week released two new resources to help health care providers get the most out of their health IT investments.

They created a 50-page contract guide, EHR Contracts Untangled: Selecting Wisely, Negotiating Terms, and Understanding the Fine Print, and a Health IT Playbook.

The EHR contract guide, updated from a 2013 version, looks at important considerations when evaluating an electronic health record system and highlights example contract language to prepare health care providers for negotiating contract terms with vendors. The guide focuses on EHR acquisition, but much of the material can be applied to other types of health IT. Buyers can better understand requirements, negotiate with vendors, and be fully informed of the risks that may arise when purchasing, using, or implementing health IT systems.

The guide also addresses managing safety and security risks, ensuring the availability and integrity of data, and creating fair and functional procedures for both providers and vendors.

The Health IT Playbook, which builds on the Patient Engagement Playbook, is a Web-based database to make it easier for health care providers to find information and guidance as they research, buy, use, or switch EHR systems. It contains tools, resources, and guides helping providers implement and use health IT in the best way for their practice.

The playbook also shares leading success stories with health IT implementation, explains the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rule, and supplies a list of the most up-to-date technologies.

“I know from my experiences practicing emergency medicine and managing information technology for a health system how helpful practical tools can be for clinicians and health care administrators as they navigate the purchase and use of health IT,” said B. Vindell Washington, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. “The EHR contract guide and the Health IT Playbook incorporate feedback we have heard from the provider community about the need for clear, reliable information about EHR contracts and user-friendly, specific tools for how to get the most out of health IT to better manage patient health and care.”

HHS will be hosting a public webinar to demo the Playbook at 2 p.m. on Sept. 30.

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