By: Jacqueline Bain
Healthcare providers often have more than one relationship with each other. For instance, a physician may be employed by a hospital and also provide that hospital with medical director services. Or a healthcare consultant may also be a healthcare provider’s landlord. Oftentimes, these types of relationships are each memorialized in one or several contracts between the parties. And while, on their face, these contracts may seem to be compliant with applicable healthcare laws, when examined together, compliance and other contract issues may arise.
As lawyers, we sometimes get only a portion of the whole story from our clients. This may be done in an effort to save time, or money , or both. However, it’s important that your attorney understands the full breadth of the relationships you form. In order to give a complete assessment, your attorney must have a complete understanding of the relationships you have. Is your marketer also your landlord? Even if the marketer provides services through two different businesses, be sure to let your attorney know. Sometimes, bad actors use multiple agreements and complicated relationships to accomplish fraud. Regulators will examine the entirety of the relationship between the parties, so there is no reason to limit your attorney’s knowledge of the same topic. Their advice is only as good as the facts they have to rely upon.
A second issue that arises in these complicated relationships is that agreements will often intertwine with each other in ways that the parties may not intend. For instance, a medical director contract may terminate in the event that a physician’s employment terminates. Or one relationship may terminate and parties may be forced to interact with each other while waiting for their other agreement to expire. It’s important not to look at each contract in a vacuum in order to fully understand your obligations.
Each time you (or your healthcare business) enters into a new relationship, understand that new obligations will arise. The more complicated your relationships, the more complicated your risk. The only way to ensure the least risk possible is to give your advisors a complete understanding of the circumstances of each relationship. Giving a partial picture will only earn you a partial answer, and open you to liability later on.