EHR firm athenahealth pays practically $18.3 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, although the corporate denies any wrongdoing.
The seller engaged in an unlawful kickback scheme to extend gross sales for its EHR platform, athenaClinicals, the Division of Justice stated on Thursday. Although athenahealth denies any wrongdoing, it agreed to settle.
The Justice Division claims the corporate performed three advertising packages between 2014 and 2020 that violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute.
The primary concerned offering free tickets and facilities to potential and current clients for sporting, leisure and leisure occasions. These included tickets to the Masters Match and the Kentucky Derby. The corporate additionally offered luxurious lodging, meals and alcohol, alleges the Justice Division.
Additional, athenahealth allegedly paid kickbacks to current clients by means of a “lead era” program. Clients have been paid after they referred new potential purchasers to the corporate, the Justice Division claims. They obtained as much as $3,000 for every new shopper that signed up for athenahealth companies.
The Justice Division’s closing allegation is that athenahealth entered into offers with distributors that have been discontinuing their EHR expertise choices. These offers concerned the distributors referring their purchasers to athenahealth and getting reimbursed primarily based on the worth and quantity of practices that have been transformed into athenahealth purchasers.
The settlement additionally resolves allegations in two whistleblowers lawsuits. The share to be awarded to the whistleblowers has not but been decided.
“Throughout the nation, physicians depend on digital well being information software program to supply important affected person knowledge. Kickbacks corrupt the marketplace for healthcare companies and threat jeopardizing affected person security,” stated U.S. Lawyer Andrew E. Lelling, within the information launch. “We are going to aggressively pursue organizations that fail to play by the foundations; EHR firms aren’t any exception.”
The EHR vendor maintains it isn’t responsible of the allegations.
“[The company] locations the best precedence on compliance with all legal guidelines and rules governing our trade,” stated an organization spokesperson, who declined to be named, in an e-mail. “Whereas we now have full confidence in our strong compliance insurance policies and packages, we agreed to this settlement — beneath which we admit no wrongdoing — to place this matter behind us and transfer ahead with our important work on behalf of sufferers and healthcare suppliers.”
Additional, two of the advertising packages have been discontinued earlier than the Justice Division investigation passed off as a result of they weren’t environment friendly or cost-effective, and the third is within the technique of being shut down, she stated in a telephone interview. The corporate claims that each one three packages complied with steerage from the Division of Well being and Human Providers.
In 2020, the Justice Division stated it collected $1.8 billion from healthcare firms beneath the False Claims Act, down from $2.6 billion in 2019. One of many largest recoveries final 12 months pertained to well being IT developer Follow Fusion Inc., which Allscripts, a competitor of anthenahealth’s, bought in 2018. Follow Fusion paid the Justice Division $145 million to settle allegations that Purdue Pharma paid it to tweak its EHR software program to extend opioid prescriptions.
Picture: Sarinyapinngam, Getty Pictures