The healthcare community has increased concerns with the way they have deployed (and licensed) their electronic medical record (EMR) software such as Epic Community Connect and others. As a reader of this blog, you know that when you deploy software for the benefit of a third party (non employee) SPLA must be part of the conversation. The only exception to this rule is if you actually own the code to the software you are hosting. In other words, if you developed the software, you can use your own volume licenses to host your software. If you host a third party software (such as Epic) you must license this in SPLA. In most cases, many healthcare companies do not own the application, but lease it from the EMR vendor.
Rewind a few years and let’s pretend you are a large hospital who partnered with Epic to provide best in class patient record management for your clients, doctors, and other clinics. Your Epic deployment resides on a Windows Server, SQL Server, and RDS. As the IT director, you purchased several server licenses and hundreds of Client Access Licenses (CAL) to cover all the external users. You think you are covered; no one mentions you need to license this via SPLA. Your reseller didn’t tell you, Microsoft didn’t tell you, and for that matter the vendor didn’t tell you. You think all is well based off the information you received. Fast forward 3 years and your volume licensing agreement is up for renewal. Someone on the licensing side informs you that you shouldn’t true-up licenses or renew your agreement under volume licensing, you need to license SPLA. You think that’s fine, if you must license under a different program who are you to argue. But what about all those license you already purchased and own? Unfortunately, you cannot return them, you must allocate those internally. You think to yourself that’s fine, except for one minor detail…. you purchased hundreds of CALs and you do not have hundreds of employees; those license you own are essentially worthless. On top of everything else, you just received an audit notification.
Why would they receive an audit notification? Once a vendor recognizes you have been under-licensed, the vendor might want to dig in deeper to see how long you have been out of compliant and if you purchased enough licenses to cover all the users. In 90% of all audits, the customer is under-licensed. Now you own licenses you don’t need, but should’ve purchased more because you don’t own enough licenses to cover all external users initially. The vendor will want you to pay the delta of what you should’ve paid under SPLA and what you purchased under volume licensing (plus an audit fee).
If you are a healthcare provider and have been notified by Microsoft or any other vendor, please contact us. We have found that in many cases the licenses report is not always 100% accurate.
Thanks for reading,