Records ownership

February 10, 2011

Determine who owns the records when you buy a practice.

Q: I am employed by a physician and about to buy his practice. When I started, I brought my own electronic health record system and server hardware and have used it ever since for our records. Since the records are on my hardware, who owns the records?

A: Does the employment agreement address this? Generally, the employer owns the records. The fact that they are held on the employee's hardware using the employee's software is no different than if they were held off site at a third-party vendor.

In such cases, if a third party would provide the hardware and software (such as on a license or from a hospital) they don't then own the records. The records belong to the practice and should be treated as such in a purchase agreement.

A. Michael La Penna, The La Penna Group Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan. Send your practice management questions to medec@advanstar.com
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