Full Circle Health Care, an office for medical care located in Presque Isle, Maine, discovered a shocking fact during the summer months: staff was unable to access the electronic health records for the patients who are part of the practice. Because of a dispute over billing with its vendor Full Circle was blocked from electronic access to the medical histories of around four hundred patients.
E. Victoria Grover, the physician assistant who runs Full Circle, told The Boston Globe that the company has stopped paying its vendor, CompuGroup, its $2,000 per month fees around 10 months prior to the end of the year. The issue is that Grover stated the reasons for this. Full Circle and Computer Group have been fighting for months over different charges. The charges were costly and sometimes unanticipated, and there was even hardware that was never shipped, Grover said. Grover claimed that did not accept the billings in the dispute or correct them.
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At some point, [CompuGroup] implanted a ‘kill switch into the software we bought from HealthPort, Grover told the news outlet. “The implant alters our software to ensure that it transmits a message seeking permission to allow us to access the system every time we attempt to login. CGM was able to do this with no knowledge or consent. “
As Grove has hired a different EHR vendor in the past year, the previous records include vital information about patients that is crucial to the way staff members take care of patients, she explained. For Health Care Fraud Prevention and medical billing services, go to the website.
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As per CompuGroup, Full Circle ignored its efforts to reach a settlement for the charges that were due. The situation is comparable to a person who is not paying their electric bill, according to Tetyana Buescher, the general counsel for CompuGroup Medical USA. Buescher said that the situation is not typical because providers generally bargain with their service providers. Blocking the access of records “is absolutely the last measure that we have.”
“Full Circle had a lot of opportunities to resolve this, including getting on a payment plan; they chose not to do that,” Buescher explained. “You can make an inference about…who is at fault in endangering patients if that is the case.”
The original contract of Full Circle was with businesszag.com which was later acquired by CompuGroup sometime in the past. As per the Globe the contract stipulates it is the case that Full Circle owns a copy of the HealthPort electronic health record software. But, it also says that if the program is used in conjunction with an off-site software system, the vendor holds the right to continue using it.
At the moment, Full Circle has not launched a lawsuit against CompuGroup according to the Globe also unclear as of yet what legal rights the medical group can use to get access to its documents.
The tragic situation exposes how important it is for healthcare providers to select EHR vendors with care and scrutinize the language that governs data transfers. The Office of the National Coordinator has even issued an EHR adoption guide to assist providers in avoiding unfair clauses in sales agreements. But, this isn’t the first time that vendors are disputing with healthcare providers.