As the word got out that the U.S. Department of Justice has settled a False Claims Act case with eClinicalWorks, the customers of company started inquiring whether they might have to pay back incentives for which they utilized the EHR vendor’s software to attest to meaningful use (MU) criteria.
On Thursday, the good news came.
A CMS spokesperson claimed late Thursday, “Providers that in great faith successfully attested using eClinicalWorks software and got an incentive payment won’t have to repay the incentive payment.”
The DOJ on the day of May 31 declared that eClinicalWorks agreed to pay $155 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit that included giving clients kickbacks and fraudulently gaining the certification important for hospitals to attest to MU with eClinicalWorks software.
Out of that $155 million, $30 million went to the whistleblower Brendan Delaney, an ex-New York City worker who worked at the Riker’s Island prison. Delaney cautioned authorities after finding various issues, involving the software combining one sufferer’s record with that of another person as well medication module errors, security issues and tracking lab results inadequately.
For its part, the DOJ charged that eClinicalWorks falsely gained MU certification by concealing its software’s limitations from the certifying body, added 16 drug codes essential for certification into its software instead of enabling the EHR to access those through an external database, failed to precisely log users actions or record diagnostic imaging orders, didn’t equip the software to conduct drug-drug interaction checks and ignored to satisfy data portability requirements so doctors can transfer sufferer data to another EHR.
The eClinicalWorks were hit hard by the DOJ settlement. Not just is the $155 million a hefty chunk of the private company’s estimated $440 million yearly revenue but, under terms of the contract, existing customers must be upgraded by the vendor to a new version or transfer their data to a rival EHR, both free of charge. And the contract mandates that it retain an Independent Review Organization watchdog to monitor eClinicalWorks activity for 5 years.
But while eClinicalWorks will be more closely watched moving forward, its clients are now in the clear — almost from the CMS’ viewpoint.
The CMS spokesperson states, “CMS realizes that providers might depend on the software they use for precision of reporting. CMS doesn’t plan to audit eClincalWorks providers deployed on the settlement under which eClinicalWorks has agreed to repay approximately $125 million to the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive payment program.”