eClinicalWorks and their employees will have to pay up $155 million for allegedly violating federal law by misleading users on what their software could do, and paying customers to promote the software.
The federal government stated the electronic health records vendor would not pass meaningful use requirements, but hid the issues in order to receive certification for the electronic health records incentive program – which violates the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute.
According to an article published on Modern Healthcare, under the meaningful use program, healthcare providers get incentives from HHS for using certified EHR software. In turn, EHR vendors must get their software certified by independent organizations that verify that their products meet HHS criteria. Since eClinicalWorks' software couldn't meet the requirements, providers that used the vendor's products ended up submitting false claims for federal incentive payments, the government said in its complaint.
In order for an EHR software to get certified, it must be able to pull any drug code from a database of standardized drug codes. eClinicalWorks is accused of hard-coding 16 drug-codes that were needed to pass the certification test. In addition, the vendor failed to properly record user actions in a log, among other problems, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. eClinicalWorks software also did not meet the criteria that the meaningful use program imposes regarding certain data-portability requirements on vendors to endure interoperability between EHR platforms. eClinicalWorks software also did not meet the criteria that the meaningful use program imposes regarding certain data-portability requirements on vendors to endure interoperability between EHR platforms.
The company also paid customers $500 every time a provider they referred completed a contract – which is a violation of the Anti-kickback Statute. The amount totaled up to $143,400 in five years.
Modern Healthcare also stated that the company and three of its founders will pay $154.92 million to the federal government. A developer and two project managers will pay $80,000. The settlement also stipulates that the company enter a corporate integrity agreement with the HHS Office of Inspector General, which requires the company to undergo more stringent assessments of its software.
eClinicalWorks CEO, Girish Navani, released a statement stating they recognize the addressed issue and are working on promoting compliance and transparency.
According to Healthcare IT News, eClinicalWorks agreed to a corporate integrity agreement, which requires eClinicalWorks to allow customers to obtain updated versions of their software free of charge and to give customers the option to have eClinicalWorks transfer their data to another EHR software provider without penalties or service charge. eClinicalWorks must also retain an Independent Review Organization to review eClinicalWorks arrangements with healthcare providers to ensure compliance with the Anti-Kickback Statute.