Joining an EHR App Store: Tips for Digital Health Companies

Integrating with EHRs--three words that are top of mind for any digital health company.  One path to exchanging data with EHRs is to go directly through the EHR developer itself.  Many of the major EHR developers—for example, Cerner, Epic, Allscripts, and athenahealth—offer a marketplace for their users to select from an array of third party apps verified in some shape or form by the EHR developer.

Working directly with EHR developers to integrate into their platform can be a great experience and offers many potential benefits, technical and otherwise.  If you are a digital health company considering this path, here is a list of items to reflect on as you chart your course into an EHR app store.

·         Participation in EHR marketplaces is typically not free.  Expect EHR vendors to charge recurring membership fees and/or to take a firm double-digit percentage of the revenue you generate by going through the marketplace. 

·         The value added differs from one EHR vendor to another.  Some EHR developers will handle invoicing and collection for you.  Others will assign you a technical liaison to help troubleshoot issues and will even provide education and training for your staff.

·         Some, but not all, EHR vendors require you to include certain legal terms and conditions in your customer license agreements.  The terms vary by vendor but are generally intended to shield the EHR developer from liability for harm caused by the use (or inability to use) your app. 

·         EHR app marketplace agreements are lopsided when it comes to intellectual property protections.  EHR vendors will rightly insist on maintaining their total freedom to operate, even if their staff gain visibility into your product’s functionality and source code as part of the app registration process.

EHR developers have good reason to be selective and controlling over the types of apps allowed entry into their app marketplace.  In return for this broad oversight, digital health companies who complete the journey into an EHR app marketplace are in a position to gain a degree of credibility and exposure to prospective customers that is difficult to replicate outside of an app marketplace.

Questions about the fine print of an EHR app store agreement?  Call (608) 469-3427 or email info@trippstroud.com

Tripp Stroud