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eClinicalWorks EHR Certification Subject of Recent Legal Action

eClinicalWorks EHR certification is at the center of a second lawsuit.

eClinicalWorks EHR certification cited in recent lawsuit.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Carrollton Family Clinic of Mississippi is taking legal action following the $155-million settlement between eClinicalWorks and the Department of Justice over allegations that the EHR company falsely obtained certification for its EHR software.

The clinic filed a class action lawsuit demanding a jury trial late last month in United District Court in Massachusetts where eClinicalWorks is headquartered.

As noted in the court documents, eligible providers in the EHR Incentive Programs must use certified EHR technology in order to complete meaningful use attestation and receive EHR incentive payments.

“To induce Plaintiffs and tens of thousands of other businesses and professionals to use its software (and pay higher prices for it), ECW repeatedly and expressly guaranteed that its software in fact satisfied and would continue to satisfy the certification criteria of the Meaningful Use program,” the complaint states.

“ECW also expressly promised in many contracts with its customers, including contracts with each of the Plaintiffs, to update its software to ensure compliance with federal requirements,” it continues. “ECW separately promised in many contracts, including its contract with [Carrollton Family Clinic], to provide credits of certain fees paid by customers in the event that its software failed to satisfy the certification criteria established by the Meaningful Use program.”

The Mississippi family practices complaints further claims that “ECW’s software failed to live up to ECW’s promises and guarantees, and its statements about its software’s current compliance with the certification criteria of the Meaningful Use program were outright false. In fact, the software did not meet the certification criteria for many years, through and including at least August 2016.”

The court documents lay out several facts to the complaint specific to meaningful use requirements the eClinicalWorks EHR system could not meet in Stage 1 or 2:

• generate and transmit prescriptions electronically using the RxNorm prescription nomenclature

• perform checks of drug formularies or preferred drug lists for patients

• identify patient-specific education resources based on patient-specific data

• use SNOMED-CT to specify the medical conditions on a patient’s problem list

• create a set of export summaries

• record user actions in an audit log

• provide computerized provider order entry to record, store, retrieve, and modify laboratory and radiology/imaging orders

• perform drug-drug and drug-allergy checks in an accurate and safe manner

• record and display which users made modifications to patient records

• record the social history of patients

The complaint alleges injuries to plaintiffs and others represented in the class action lawsuit as a result of having to pay “inflated prices for ECW’s software and services” or being compelled to choose eClinicalWorks over its competitors.

The final nail in the coffin for Carrollton Family Clinic likely occurred sometime in the previous year:

In 2017, CFC planned to apply for a Meaningful Use incentive payment based on its use of ECW, but was informed by a representative of the Mississippi Division of Medicaid that ECW would not enable her to attest to the meaningful use of certified EHR software because ECW did not perform formulary checks itself and required CFC to go through a separate process to verify those checks.  

A fellow plaintiff in the case, a partner at Primary Health Partners in California, was forced to return $18,000 in EHR incentives following a meaningful use audit in 2015.

In total, the complaint comprises nine counts, namely deceptive business practices in violation of Massachusetts Chapter 93A, Section 11, which could make the EHR company liable for treble damages to all parties represented in the class action suit in addition to actual damages suffered by the plaintiffs.

John Roddy of Boston-based firm Bailey Glasser LLP is representing the primary plaintiffs in the case.

Carrollton Family Clinic’s complaint is the second lawsuit filed against eClinicalWorks following its DoJ settlement in May. eClinicalWorks agreed to pay $155 million to resolve allegations that the EHR company misled consumers about the certification of its EHR technology and paid some customers kickbacks in return for positive promotion of its product.

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