OIG warns EHR vendors it will 'vigilantly' crack down on false claims tied to meaningful use

Agency says the eClinicalWorks False Claims Act settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice signals a new area of healthcare fraud.
By Tom Sullivan
02:26 PM
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OIG warns EHR vendors

In the wake of the eClinicalWorks False Claims settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of the Inspector General sent an explicit message to all electronic health record vendors.

“OIG will vigilantly, along with law enforcement partners, investigate any conduct that places patient safety at risk and that causes losses to the federal healthcare programs,” OIG senior counsel John O’Brien said. “We take the certification process for EHR software very seriously. There is no room for manipulating this process and making false statements during certification.”

[Also: eClinicalWorks CEO Girish Navani speaks: 'This chapter has to be closed']

OIG’s message, which it posted as a YouTube video, comes as legal and industry experts are also expecting the DOJ to widen its probe into other EHR vendors certification status.

“We’re entering an entirely new area of healthcare fraud,” O’Brien said. 

O’Brien explained that eClincalWorks — which paid a hefty $155 million fine and agreed to a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement another OIG official previously described as innovative — effectively caused hospitals using its software or cloud services to submit false claims because its software failed to meet the criteria required for certification.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has since said it will not punish hospitals that used eClinicalWorks in good faith to collect EHR incentive payments. 

But OIG’s video confirms that it will pursue any electronic medical record vendors that may have made false claims or otherwise faked certification.

“It’s very critical, just like in the written, the old medical records, that everything be accurate,” O’Brien said. “If there are any defects in EHR software program, then critical tests and medical prescriptions may not be accurately processed and that could have detrimental effects on patient care.” 

Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com


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