Primary care providers file class-action lawsuit claiming eClinicalWorks failed to meet Meaningful Use guarantees

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A Mississippi clinic and a California physician allege eClinicalWorks failed to meet its contractual promises to comply with Meaningful Use requirements. (Getty/eccolo74)

EHR vendor eClinicalWorks has been hit with a second class-action lawsuit in as many months, this one from a Mississippi primary care clinic and a California physician that claim the company failed to live up to promises that its software complied with Meaningful Use certification criteria.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in Massachusetts just before Christmas, claims the company didn’t meet EHR certification criteria “for many years, through and including at least August 2016.” The company is currently fighting off a separate class-action suit filed in November, by the estate of a patient who died of cancer alleging eClinicalWorks failed to accurately display his medical history.

The complaint (PDF) was filed by Carrollton Family Clinic LLC, a primary care clinic located in North Carrollton, Mississippi, and Perrin Curran, M.D., a California primary care physician and a partner with Primary Health Partners. The lawsuit was first reported by Healthcare IT News.

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Curran claims he was required to return $18,000 to the federal government in 2015 after he was unable to generate an audit log to verify he met 2011 attestation requirements. Carrollton Family Clinic says it planned to apply for a Meaningful Use incentive payment in 2017, but was told by a Mississippi Medicaid official the EHR software did not meet attestation requirements because it didn’t perform its own drug formulary checks.

In a statement emailed to FierceHealthcare, eClinicalWorks spokesperson Bhakti Shah said the allegations in the lawsuit are "wholly without merit."

“eClinicalWorks’ software has been continuously certified for use in connection with the Meaningful Use program since the program was created, and tens of thousands of eClinicalWorks users have demonstrated meaningful use and successfully attested and received incentives,” she said. “eClinicalWorks plans to vigorously defend itself against these allegations.”

However, the plaintiffs listed examples of the EHR vendor’s software deficiencies drawn primarily from the Department of Justice’s complaint against the company, which resulted in a $155 million settlement last May. The deficiencies include failure to transmit prescriptions electronically, check drug formularies, export patient summaries, retrieve diagnostic imaging orders and record user actions in an audit log.

As a result, the plaintiffs alleged eClinicalWorks engaged in deceptive practices, fraud and misrepresentation by falsely stating that its software met federal requirements. They also claim the company failed to live up to guarantees outlined in contracts with providers, which promised to update its software to meet federal requirements.

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The suit alleges those misrepresentations led current and former eClincalWorks customers to continue “paying inflated prices" for the software and prompted them to select eClincalWorks over other vendors.

“[eClinicalWorks] software failed to live up to ECW’s promises and guarantees, and its statements about its software’s current compliance with the certification criteria of the Meaningful Use program were outright false,” the complaint stated.