More False Claims Act Lawsuits Ahead for EHR Vendors, Whistleblower Attorney Says

More lawsuits against electronic health record (EHR) vendors that skirt “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program requirements are likely on the horizon, according to an article from FierceHealthcare that names a whistleblower attorney from Washington, DC as their source.

The attorney is involved in the eClinicalWorks case that features allegations from federal prosecutors that the EHR vendor misrepresented the capabilities of its software, thus putting patient safety at risk. “I think the issues that were identified in both the government’s complaint and the corporate integrity agreement that eClinicalWorks signed are potentially issues with a number of the other vendors as well,” said Colette G. Matzzie, an attorney with Phillips & Cohen LLP that represented the whistleblower in the case against eClinicalWorks, in the FierceHealthcare article. Other concerns raised include the possibility that payments made to promote EHR software could violate the Anti-Kickback Statute, according to the article.

John O’Brien, senior counsel for the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), previously explained in an OIG video that the eClinicalWorks case opened up a new avenue for healthcare fraud. The video explains that accurate health records are the foundation of providing quality healthcare to patients, and that it puts patient safety in jeopardy when a vendor claims their software has functionality that it actually lacks. “Data is inputted into an EHR software system that reflects the care that’s provided, and it’s very critical… that everything be accurate,” O’Brien said. “If there are any defects in that software program, then critical tests, medical prescriptions may not be accurately processed, and that could have detrimental effects on patient care.”

The video indicates that OIG is now looking into this area of fraud, with concerns that other EHR vendors could be compromising patient safety or triggering false claims through the “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program, according to FierceHealthcare. This news comes as OIG has also announced a new audit of “meaningful use” payments after identifying $729 million in inappropriate payments over the last six years.

Sarah Sheber is assistant editor/web editor at Journal of AHIMA.

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