EHR Vendor eClinicalWorks Settles Suit With Feds for $155M
A major vendor of electronic health record systems for physicians, eClinicalWorks, will pay the federal government $155 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit contending that its products are faulty.
The settlement, announced in June, is the first of its kind for a healthcare IT company facing formal charges that its systems did not help providers achieve objectives of the meaningful use program for EHRs and that usability shortcomings put patient lives at risk.
The company denied any wrongdoing as part of its formal statement on the settlement. eClinicalWorks said it fully cooperated with the Department of Justice civil investigation.
“The claims settled by the agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability,” the statement said. “Although eCW disputed the DoJ’s allegations, it decided to settle to avoid the cost and uncertainty inherent in protracted litigation.”
The settlement also contends that eClinicalWorks paid kickbacks in exchange for promoting its product, which had flaws that could expose patients to potential safety issues.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Brendan Delaney, an IT staff worker for New York City who was implementing the software at Rikers Island jail, said he encountered numerous problems with the EHR, its coding and functionality. The suit was filed under the False Claims Act, a federal law that allows people unaffiliated with the government to file actions against federal contractors.
The lawsuit alleged that eClinicalWorks falsely certified that the EHR met all government criteria; that the vendor failed to adequately test software before release; failed to correct critical and urgent problems and bugs for an extended period of time; failed to ensure data portability and audit log requirements; and failed to reliably record lab and diagnostic imaging orders.