How vendors can profit from your patient data

Your patient data is a valuable commodity, especially to a software vendor who, given appropriate contractual rights, can perhaps make money sharing it with certain “partners.” In reviewing a practice’s Electronic Records Contract recently I noticed a statement that was  disconcerting:

“Customer agrees that [Vendor] may use Customer information  for research purposes . . . And Customer further agrees that any product of the foregoing uses shall be the property of [Vendor].”

So, what does “research” and “property of the vendor” mean? Do you really want to  agree to such a stipulation?

Never accept a contract clause that gives the vendor has the right to use your data for “research” purposes, unless you’re getting something in return. “Research” is one of those terms that can be interpreted a number of ways. You spend time and energy compiling client data. Be sure to control how it is used, and arrange to be fully compensated for any third party use that you authorize. You have the right to stipulate in your data ownership clause that the vendor “cannot realize any financial gain or revenue from use of your data without prior consent.”


Michael Uretz is a thirty-year healthcare IT veteran and nationally-recognized Electronic Health Records (EHR) and healthcare software expert.