Choosing a Healthcare IT Attorney

Lawyers specialize in many areas, each with their own special expertise.  The healthcare IT attorney melds two areas of the law together in a highly specialized practice.  One component is IT, or information technology, which crosses all industries in this highly technical world.  Attorneys working in the general IT practice are knowledgeable on many things and keep their clients protected.  Healthcare attorneys deal primarily with hospitals, physician practices, other healthcare entities, as well as technology vendors targeted specifically at the aforementioned healthcare entities.  The healthcare IT lawyer must blend the overall IT practice with the special requirements and considerations of the healthcare industry.

For example, an attorney practicing in general IT work may represent business entities, both consumer and vendor, in transactional work involving software for automobile dealerships.  While this health IT attorney may do an outstanding job at negotiating solid technology agreements in this arena, experience will probably be lacking in topics like HIPAA, Protected Health Information, ARRA/HITECH, EHR Certification, etc.  Similarly, an in-house counsel at a hospital may handle an incredible range of issues from patients’ rights to landlord/tenant issues to physician group agreements, and on and on.  But in the small or medium sized hospitals, this attorney may not have extensive exposure to healthcare IT contracts and associated transactional work.

Finding the right attorney to meet the needs of a healthcare organization with regard to its critical investment in healthcare IT, or conversely to assist a healthcare IT vendor to recognize and accommodate the needs of healthcare entities, has become extremely important. The ideal healthcare IT lawyer has extensive experience on both sides, representing healthcare providers as well as vendors (perhaps as inside counsel at a healthcare IT vendor).

When considering your legal review and negotiation needs in the healthcare IT world, ask the attorney about their experience in healthcare. Then ask about their experience with IT transactional work. Finally, ask about their experience specifically in healthcare IT work. You will find many in both of the first categories, and fewer in the third. There are many good ones out there, and prior experience as described above contributes immensely to their success.

Last Updated: September 18, 2012