The Department of Justice announced a $500,000 settlement with an electronic health records company based in New Jersey. According to DOJ, the company, Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas Inc., agreed to pay $500,000 “to resolve False Claims Act allegations that its former subsidiary, Viztek LLC, caused users to submit false claims by misrepresenting the capabilities of its electronic health records (EHR) software.”
The United States alleged that Viztek fraudulently obtained certification for its EHR product named “EXA EHR.” In order for healthcare providers to receive meaningful use incentive payments from the federal government, the EHR software must comply with HHS certification requirements. Viztek, however, did not comply with the HHS requirements and misrepresented to InfoGard, a certifying entity, that its software met the certification criteria. Additionally, Viztek “hard-coded” its software to pass the certification test even though the features did not work in practice. By cheating the certification test and lying about its compliance with the HHS standards, Viztek knowingly caused eligible providers who used EXA EHR to submit false claims for the incentive payments.
The lawsuit was brought by a former Viztek employee. The whistleblower and other Viztek employees were pressured into ensuring the software would pass the certification test in advance of their pending acquisition by Konica Minolta. The whistleblower recognized that the lives of patients depend on the information processed by the EHR software and courageously came forward to blow the whistle.
The settlement underscores DOJ’s continued focus on investigating and prosecuting EHR fraud. Recently, former Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt reiterated his belief that electronic healthcare record fraud is an area that continues to be a priority area for DOJ enforcement. Mr. Hunt recognizes that while EHR software creates many efficiencies it also creates new opportunities for fraud.
The federal government has encouraged the implementation of Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to improve healthcare for patients across the country. EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to patients and healthcare providers. In addition, EHRs can also go beyond standard clinical data to include a broader view of a patient’s care, including allowing access to tools that providers can use to make decisions about a patient’s care.
How You Can Help
Healthcare providers, IT professionals, coders, and other hospital employees are essential in combating EHR fraud. If you are aware of electronic healthcare record (EHR) fraud or have been approached with a proposal to commit fraud, you may qualify to serve as a whistleblower. Whistleblowers are protected by the law and can receive a portion of the recovery.
Baron & Budd’s experienced whistleblower representation team has helped numerous whistleblowers achieve a successful resolution in a wide variety of cases under state and federal law. Please call (866) 401-5971 if you want to report EHR fraud.
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