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Healthcare Contract Management: Best Practices and Resources

Contract Basics

Healthcare organizations regularly handle some of the most private information most individuals possess. They perform critical services, using cutting-edge (and expensive) technology. Adhering to compliance standards, meeting exceptional standards for patient care, and balancing finances at the same time may not quite be brain surgery, but it’s still complex work. The following best practices can reduce the risk of costly mistakes.

Streamline As Much As Possible

While hit medical television shows concentrate on the operating room, a healthcare organization encompasses many more areas that need careful attention. Common contracts and records healthcare organizations regularly handle include:

  • Patient agreements and medical records

  • Physician agreements

  • Partnerships with other healthcare organizations

  • Transfer agreements

  • Medical equipment and supplies vendors

  • Office equipment and supplies vendors

  • IT contracts

  • Media and public relations contracts

  • Contracts for other services the organization may need (security, custodial services, catering, etc.)

  • And many more

It’s overwhelming to manage all of these contracts manually. The more streamlined the contract management process is, the easier it is to minimize risk and use time effectively.

Automate and standardize as much as possible. Tag similar contracts with the same set of tags so you can easily search for all documents in a category. An admin can make certain tags required fields to ensure compliance. Set up auto-reminders to alert general counsel, contract managers, and administrators when they need to review documents.

Optimize Security

Following privacy guidelines isn’t just a matter of strong ethics. Healthcare organizations are bound to uphold various laws and regulations, including HIPAA, Stark Law, the Federal Anti-Kickback Law, and safe harbor regulations. Any of these are subject to change, and new compliance guidelines may be introduced. Legal counsel may be concerned with ensuring that the contract management system helps their organization stay compliant.

When storing contracts and other sensitive documents electronically, make sure the server storing the information is compliant with all necessary laws and regulations. Then, put measures in place so only authorized viewers can access the files.

Two-factor authentication for users helps protect security, as well as setting up a user hierarchy. Admins can extend full access to some users, while limiting others to read-only status or even keeping some tiers of documents from view altogether. Digital watermarks on files discourages unauthorized sharing, since the user’s information is visible in the watermark.

Organize Files for Quick Access

A contract management system is only useful if you can quickly locate files you need. Customizing certain aspects of contract management can make that easier. Creating custom tags makes it possible to search for parameters unique to your organization. Advanced search options help you identify and compare various accounts.

A responsive, customizable, organized system that administrators can navigate easily has many positive ramifications for the healthcare organization. It may be easier to complete contract reviews in a timely manner, or identify opportunities to negotiate more favorable contracts with vendors or partnering healthcare organizations.

Helpful Resources

If you’re interested in further guidance about meeting compliance guidelines and following best contract management practices in a healthcare setting, these organizations may be a helpful source of information:

  • The Health Care Compliance Association

  • The American Medical Association’s publications concerning HIPAA

  • A chapter of a local or national association in your organization’s area of specialty

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