HIMSS10 – O’Toole Law Group

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At the HISTalk party at HIMSS10, Michael Tranchina speaks with Bill O’Toole, Founder of the O’Toole Law Group. Mr. O’Toole describes his unique niche in HIT, as his firm was built on 20 years of experience as legal counsel for Meditech. Michael Tranchina and Mr. O’Toole discuss why hospitals, EHR vendors, and IT companies can benefit from utilizing Mr. O’Toole’s legal advice in negotiating and preparing contracts related to HIT and EHR adoption.

Category: HIMSS10, Tradeshows
Date: March 23, 2010
Views:4,474 views

Michael Tranchina: This is Mike Tranchina with EHRtv and we're at the HISTalk party, HIMSS10 and I'm with Bill O'Toole from the O'Toole Law Group. Hi, Bill.

Bill O'Toole: Good evening.

Michael Tranchina: Tell me about your work here in the health care industry.

Bill O'Toole: My recent firm launched last year. I cater to hospitals and IT companies, as long as there's no conflict, to help out and navigate the intricacies of health care IT law and contracting. If it's a hospital, how do they get the best deal out of the vendor, if it's the vendor, how do they protect themselves and due diligence to take care of the things they need to take care of. As long as there is no conflict between the hospital and the company, meaning specifically that I could support either side. That's where it gets a little bit tricky but in essence, I've done this for 25 years. I was with MediTechnology formerly and I was corporate counsel at MediTech for 20 years. I dealt with 2,000 hospitals, consultants, and law firms across the United States, Canada and the world. Basically, I can do either side as long as there's no conflict and try to help each side get what they need.

Michael Tranchina: Do you do work more for larger organizations like hospitals and large practices or do you work with smaller practices as well?

Bill O'Toole: I do everything from the small, tiny hospital to the huge chains, physician groups, independent physician with a side IT company, over to software companies in and around the IT field. Most of my IT company clients are the small ones in and around the large one, the niche vendors. They come to me and say do you know how to do this, that and the other thing and I say I do because I've done it for 20 years. It's been a nice bonus to my practice.

Michael Tranchina: Are you working mainly on contract type negotiations and contract preparation or is there litigation or what kind of specific law?

Bill O'Toole: No litigation, I'm not a litigator; mostly contract and business advice. I've had firms come up to me to say this isn't a legal need but this is a health care IT need and you've been in it for so long, can you help guide us. That's been yet another surprising (inaudible) of the business and I'm delighted to have it. I didn't really see it coming but its been wonderful.

Michael Tranchina: Can you give me an example of a project that you worked on with a client that you were able to really help them save money, prevent them from making a major mistake? Obviously, keep it generic.

Bill O'Toole: I don't have any choice.

Michael Tranchina: I know that. Can you give me an idea that really specifically gives someone an idea or picture of how you can really help? Obviously, the clients have to invest a lost of money in an opportunity so it has to pay.

Bill O'Toole: One of the more important examples I can give is like roughly a 20 hospital chain going to a huge project with a huge vendor. So there's a lot of things kicking around and what do you need to lay out as a customer? The very technical person knows what they need very technically. The attorney in-house knows the things they think they need in general. Then you get the CFO who thinks they need x, y, z for financial terms. Try to put all that together into a condensed package to go to the vendor that they want and they want the deal to succeed, that's the real key right there. You say, okay, you want all these things. Some things you might get, some you won't. You try to really refine it, hone it down to a package that the vendor should be able to accept. The next step is obviously not mine but to get it to an acceptable package. It may be asking a lot but if it's well tailored, it should be successful.

Michael Tranchina: It's got to be win-win.

Bill O'Toole: In theory, yes. Hopefully, if you do all that tailoring to cover the exact things you need, must have and some things you might want, while recognizing the vendor is not going to do whatever you ask or want. They have to protect themselves as well.

Michael Tranchina: Lot of negotiating.

Bill O'Toole: You put all that together, try to present a good package and hopefully, it turns out okay.

Michael Tranchina: Now, do you do negotiating on behalf of your clients as well?

Bill O'Toole: Yes. That's my life's blood, yes.

Michael Tranchina: So you're not only in the background, sometimes you have attorneys that are working in the background.

Bill O'Toole: Right.

Michael Tranchina: You're actually working on behalf to do the negotiating, prepare the contracts and at the end of the day, the client signs the deal but you make sure they get the best value, the best deal, protect them, reduce the risk.

Bill O'Toole: Fully advise them on the risk, the costs. They know the cost, the dollars and cents but the overall cost. Advise them of everything, say yes you can sign this or no you can't. They can still override me so I shouldn't say no, you can't. My recommendation is no, you shouldn't but they still might. That's always a possibility.

Michael Tranchina: Now, I imagine that hospitals and large practices have attorneys that they have retained.

Bill O'Toole: Absolutely, yes.

Michael Tranchina: You are a specialist in HIT and I would think that they may believe that their attorney that they have retained, that may not be an expert in HIT, could handle some of the chores that you're working on. Tell me why your specific expertise is really worthwhile to go outside of their network to go after and find rather than working with their local attorney that they've already worked with.

Bill O'Toole: Well, this is no doubt blowing my own horn but in my 20 years as counsel for MediTech, I dealt with 2,000 hospitals, 2,000 attorneys, 2,000 consulting firms, 2,000 CFO's. Add it all up, that's a wealth of input. I'm not saying I agree with all of them all the time or even any of the time, but just who else has that amassed input? I like to think that I did well by all of them. Some didn't get the closure and that's the way it goes but that was really, honestly very few for me and for MediTech. I was proud of the work I did at MediTech and I stand by it and I'm happy that I was there.

Michael Tranchina: I would think that there aren't very many attorneys that have your level of experience in the marketplace. Would you agree with that?

Bill O'Toole: I would.

Michael Tranchina: And tell me you are "I Could Be Mr. HISTalk".

Bill O'Toole: I could be.

Michael Tranchina: But we will find that out later or not?

Bill O'Toole: I've been in the industry for 25 years and I could be.

Michael Tranchina: Great. Thanks a lot.

Bill O'Toole: Thank you very much.

Michael Tranchina: Looking forward to hearing more about your business.

Bill O'Toole: Thank you.

Michael Tranchina: This is Mike Tranchina with EHRtv.

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