INFO: Adobe Electronic Signatures (eSign or eSignature)

Adobe: Electronic Signatures (Previously EchoSign)

As of April 2015, eSignature Services are now available in Adobe Document Cloud (DC) Pro and Enterprise Premium products.

What is the difference between Pro and Enterprise Premium besides price point?  There are more features included in the Enterprise Premium version that may be required depending on your consent process and workflow.  The two use cases we've had for research consent, both purchased Enterprise Premium for their needs. See Adobe's site for detailed comparison.


How are eSigs implemented?

Adobe has many ways to distribute forms to sign.  In general, the process involves:

1. You send / post the document to a website

  • If emailed, the recipient gets an email with a link to your document
  • If posted to website (Widget), documents can be access with a URL
  • In both cases, the document is loaded in a web browser; NO downloads, installations or accounts needed by the recipient

2.  Recipient signs the document

  • They review and sign instantly online/offline

3.  Document is filed automatically

  • All parties can automatically receive a PDF copy of the signed document
  • All documents are stored in your account for future access


Who can use eSigs?

Anyone at Mass General Brigham can purchase this software for their business related processes.

Researchers interested in using Adobe eSig Services to electronically consent participants must receive IRB approval to use the technology.  Research protocols, new and ongoing (via amendment submission), will need to outline the use of Adobe eSig Services and the consent process.

Replacing the paper version with the eSig version and continuing in-person consent process or the protocol’s established consent process, is a good use case for eSignatures.  There may be certain use cases that the IRB does not approve – for example, consenting someone by emailing consent forms instead of engaging the participant in person.  Once the application is actively in use at Mass General Brigham, we will provide additional use cases.


Research eConsent Example:




Click to Sign:

By using the option "I would like to draw my signature", the participant can use a mouse or stylus to sign their name.


There is a lot of flexibility within the program.  Each project group can create workflows for their different needs and processes.  For example, you can "share" signature authority in a group; so you can have multiple PIs / researchers review and sign consents.  You can have multiple people sign the document (parents, guardians).  You can designate the order each user signs a document.

If participants do not have an email address, you can use the EchoSign App on mobile devices (iPads, tablets) to have the participant sign in-person and an authorized study team member can then sign the consent document.  Documents can be printed for the participant if needed.


What is the cost of Adobe eSig Services?

Contact for an updated quote.

For Adobe DC Pro Subscription (must be Subscription for full eSign Services) : ~ $170/user/year

For Adobe DC Enterprise :  $468.00/user/year

Month to month licenses currently cannot be purchased through our reseller, Insight.  You must purchase based on the year; but licenses will co-term to the start date when the first order was processed. 


How do I purchase Adobe EchoSign?

Purchase through Mass General Brigham's software vendor, Insight:

1.  Contact, (888) 213-8430, to request the software license quote (need to know number of licenses)

2. Once you receive the quote .pdf, place the order in eBuy and attach the quote .pdf.

Insight eBuy Vendor ID is:  0000365687

NOTE: To ensure that the accounts are setup in the proper end user name, provide the full name and email address for each license to Insight and also in the note field in eBuy.  

This email address will become the user's Adobe ID.



What is an eSignature?

An electronic signature – also known as an e-signature – is a legal way to get consent or approval on electronic documents or forms.

The most relied upon definition of an electronic signature is: an electronic sound, symbol, or process attached to or logically associated with a record adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record.


What compliance and security certifications has Adobe attained?

Adobe meets a number of strict industry and regulatory standards, including:

    1. HIPAA - The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) helps ensure sensitive patient information is protected. All of the Adobe's  systems are compliant with HIPAA, so highly regulated personal health information (PHI) can be stored on its servers.


  1. Research Computing has gone through the following process to have this technology approved for Mass General Brigham:

1.  Completed the Vendor Information Security Plan (VISP) by the Information Systems Risk Assessment Team.
2.  Confirmed process legality of eSigs with Office of General Council (OGC).
3.  Completed a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with Adobe and Mass General Brigham Materials Management.
4.  Received Mass General Brigham Information Security approval.


For more FAQs about Adobe eSign legality, auditability and general use questions, please see Adobe's FAQ website.

Can I use another eSignature technology?

Yes, but because eSignature technologies capture names, signatures and usually use a cloud computing service for data storage and transmission, you will need to go through the same approval process as Adobe Echosign: VISP, BAA, OGC and ISPO approval.  The process for Adobe Echosign took approximately 8 months. 

Adobe EchoSign vs DocuSign vs RightSignature:


Go to KB0027967 in the IS Service Desk