Bradley attorney Jason Mehta was quoted in Healthcare Risk Management about the potential liability hospitals and health systems could face from using electronic health records (EHR) tied to fraud charges. Greenway Health recently settled False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute charges with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for $57.25 million. The DOJ alleged that Greenway caused its users to submit false claims to the government by misrepresenting the capabilities of an EHR product and that the company provided unlawful remuneration to users to induce them to recommend the product.
Although the defendant in this case was a vendor, healthcare risk managers should take note of the DOJ’s prosecution, said Mehta.
“The Greenway Health settlement is reflective of the government’s keen interest in focusing on compliance and accountability of healthcare companies of all stripes, be they clinics, hospitals, or even software developers,” Mehta explained. “From the same office that just months earlier announced another settlement with an electronic health record company, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont is demonstrating a proficiency in software coding and meaningful use requirements."
For hospitals and health systems that rely on EHRs, the future is a bit uncertain, Mehta added.
“The government has not yet signaled an interest in pursuing customers who used faulty EHR systems,” he said. “But given the government’s aggressiveness to date, providers are not out of the woods yet.”
A few lessons can be gleaned from this most recent settlement, Mehta noted. First, most vendors like Greenway Health update their software with routine updates, many of which are focused on emerging compliance requirements. Therefore, customers of Greenway Health would be well-served by applying any software updates.
Second, companies focused on innovation would be wise to use this settlement as a warning and a reminder that all new innovative software, techniques, and procedures need to be fully vetted for compliance prior to deployment, Mehta said.
“Third, and finally, clinicians and hospitals alike would be wise to remember the old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he said. “Nowhere is that more true than in the world of modern regulated medicine.”
The complete article, “DOJO Pursuing EHR Vendors for False Claims, Kickbacks,” first appeared in the March 2019 issue of Healthcare Risk Management.