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Access to Information about Database Structures
Issues and Suggestions for Contract Negotiations

Resource Topic: HIT/Data
Resource Subtopic: EHR Purchasing

Year Developed: 2016 8:27 PM

Resource Type: Publication

Primary Audience: Enabling Staff

Language: English

Developed by: HITEQ (See other resources developed by this organization).

Resource Summary: This issue brief discusses a critical concern during health center’s health IT contracting process – the need to have access to the underlying database structures to the health IT applications (e.g., EHR, reporting system… etc.) The lack of access to database structure will hinder the health center’s ability to access the data captured in the system, and risk vendor lock-in and have records trapped in data silos in the future. Electronic health record (EHR) system customers that can access their data have found that they also need information about the database structure used by the EHR technology developer in order to effectively use the data for custom reports or to even understand the customer’s own patient population and the unit costs of care. Some EHR technology developers are reportedly unwilling to provide data models or “data dictionaries” or are charging significant fees for information that helps the customer understand how the data is held in the EHR and may be efficiently extracted and used for other purposes.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $6,375,000 with 0 percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.