Lawyer: Class-action suit against eClinicalWorks will 'make it right' for customers
eClinicalWorks this week was charged in a class-action suit, the second since its $155 million dollar False Claims settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice on May 31, 2017.
The complaint alleges that the EHR vendor engaged in deceptive practices that cost customers of Carrollton Family Clinic money and caused them not to switch to a rival electronic health record vendor.
eClinicalWorks, for its part, said “the allegations are wholly without merit.”
Mark Chalos, managing partner at the law firm Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP’s, Nashville office, is named in the complaint among attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Carrollton Family Clinic v. eClinicalWorks.
“A significant number of eClinicalWorks customers are dissatisfied and believe the software is not compliant with government regulations and does not function as promised,” Chalos said.
Chalos added that the suit is asking the court to require that eClinicalWorks both fix its software and put its hospital and practice customers back in the position they were in before encountering the problems with eClinicalWorks technology.
Under the initial False Claims settlement in May of last year, the DOJ mandated that eClinicalWorks offer free upgrades of its software or transfer data to rival EHR vendors if customers elected to switch.
The vendor announced version 11 of the EHR at its annual user group in October and CEO Girish Navani said in late November it would be finalized on Dec. 15 and existing customers would implement the cloud-based services in January and February of 2018.
Navani said during a previous interview that the company is focusing on its internal compliance program to measure all the checks and balances in the meaningful use criteria. It will likely take until many, if not most, of the vendor’s customers implement eClinicalWorks 11 and use it to understand whether the upgrade adequately fixed the known problems or not.
The Carrollton complaint document, however, suggests that any eClinicalWorks customer who paid the vendor between Jan. 14, 2010 and May 30, 2017, could potentially be eligible under the class action suit.
“Any company that puts out a product that doesn’t perform as promised should make it right for the customers. If they refuse to make it right for the customers they are certainly at risk of being held accountable in the civil justice system,” Chalos said. “I don’t have any information at large that EHR vendors are specifically bad but any company that cheats its customers should make it right.”
While the first suit, filed in mid-November, is seeking $999 million, Chalos said the new complaint does not allege a specific dollar amount, other than to say “greater than $5 million,” and, as allowable under Massachusetts Consumer Protection Law Chapter 93A, asking for treble (or triple) damages.
“We don’t know the full extent of the damages. We have not gotten into the discovery process yet so it’s difficult to put an exact number on it at this point,” Chalos said. “We expect to learn a lot more about the exact number of potential class numbers and the extent of the damages.”