Athenahealth to pay US$18 million for violation of False Claims Act

The US Department of Justice issued an announcement that said an electronic health records (EHR) vendor, athenahealth, Inc., has agreed to pay US$18.25 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by paying illegal kickbacks to generate sales of its EHR product, athenaClinicals. The USA alleged that Athena violated the FCA and the Anti-Kickback Statute through three marketing programmes; for example, Athena allegedly invited prospects and customers to all-expense-paid events that included complimentary travel, accomodations, meals, and alcohol. As a result of such kickbacks, the company is alleged to have improperly generated sales for itself while causing healthcare providers to submit false claims to the federal government related to incentive payments for the adoption and meaningful use of Athena’s EHR technology. US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling said kickbacks corrupt the market for healthcare services and risk jeopardising patient safety. An official of the US Department of Health and Human Services said patients must be confident that providers have selected the most effective system, not the one paying the largest kickbacks.