eClinicalWorks fined $132,500 by HHS OIG for patient safety risk

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General fined eClinicalWorks $132,550 for failing to report patient safety issues with its EHR to regulators in a specific timeframe, violating the agreement with the Department of Justice.

The fine comes just over one year after it settled with the DOJ for $155 million for claims eCW falsified its EHR certification standards. As part of that settlement, eCW signed a corporate integrity agreement with OIG, mandating the vendor notify regulators of reportable event notifications in a timely manner.

According to the agreement, reportable events include issues that impact patient safety or “any identified instance of actual or suspected patient harm related to the EHR software.” And if one of these adverse events leads to death, injury or hospital readmission, eCW has 48 hours to report the event to OIG. 

As that one year mark approached multiple eClinicalWorks clients said the vendor, in their experience, was not adequately complying with the Corporate Integrity Agreement. Failure to comply with the May 2017 agreement comes with a $2,500 stipulated penalty, which begins to “accrue on the day after the date the obligation became due for each day eCW fails to establish and effectively implement” any of the obligations.

As part of the CIA, eCW is also required to describe appropriate actions taken to resolve reportable events, along with the methods to prevent it from recurring. The agreement is in effect for five years. 

Based on the DOJ allegation, eCW caused providers who used the software to unknowingly submit false claims to Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive program, as the platform didn’t meet Meaningful Use certification requirements.

“We have consistently sought to [report events] in a complete and timely manner to comply with the CIA, including by reporting such events to customers on our portal,” eCW spokesperson Bhakti Shah said. “The OIG determined that certain reports were not timely provided to it and assessed this penalty. We have paid the penalty and enhanced our processes to ensure timely reporting going forward.”

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