eClinicalWorks to pay $155M to settle claims it faked certification

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Electronic health record (EHR) vendor eClinicalWorks will pay $155 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging it “falsely obtained” meaningful use certification and gave customers kickbacks in exchange for publicly promoting its products.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), eClinicalWorks was certified by an independent accreditor by “concealing” that its software didn’t comply with the requirements for a certified EHR. Specifically, the software couldn’t meet the criteria for standardized drug codes, so the company “hardcoded” the 16 drug codes which would be tested into the software, rather than give the product the capability to access any drug code from a complete database.

Additionally, the DOJ said the company’s EHR didn’t accurately record user actions in an audit log, didn’t reliably record diagnostic imaging orders or perform drug interaction checks, and failed to meet requirements of transferring patient data to another vendor’s software.

“This settlement is the largest False Claims Act recovery in the District of Vermont and we believe the largest financial recovery in the history of the State of Vermont,” Eugenia Cowles, Vermont’s acting U.S. Attorney, said in a statement. “This resolution demonstrates that EHR companies will not succeed in flouting the certification requirements.”

Under the settlement, eClinicalWorks will have to pay for independent oversight of its EHR software. It will also have to free updated versions of its products to customers and allow them to transfer their data to another vendor’s product free of charge.

The company itself denied any wrongdoing.

“Today's settlement recognizes that we have addressed the issues raised and have taken significant measures to promote compliance and transparency," said eClinicalWorks CEO Girish Navani, who along with two other company executives will have to pay part of the settlement. “We are pleased to put this matter behind us and concentrate all of our efforts on customers and continued innovations to enhance patient care delivery.”

Some $30 million of the settlement will go to whistleblower Brendan Delaney, a former software technician at the New York City Division of Health Care Access and Improvement. According to the Associated Press, he filed the lawsuit after noticing numerous software problems with the company’s EHR when he was implementing it at the Rikers Island jail complex.