Konica Minolta, a company better known for copiers than health IT, has somehow managed to insert its foot deep enough into the EHR certification waters to get bitten.
Specifically, news has come out from the U.S. Department of Justice that Konica Minolta Healthcare Americas Inc. (KMHA) will be paying a hefty fine to settle allegations that it had gotten its EHR certification from the feds under false pretenses. KMHA agreed to pay $500,000 to resolve False Claims Act allegations that a former subsidiary, Viztek LLC, prior to acquisition by KMHA caused its users to submit false claims by misrepresenting the capabilities of the Viztek EHR.
Apparently, Viztek started out as a PACS vendor but rolled out an EHR-PACS combo, the Exa EHR, in 2014. According to a HISTalk summary of the federal complaint, it developed that product by reworking its previously acquired ONC certified Opal EHR. The reworking turned out to be very difficult, as Viztek’s India-based developers seemed to have underestimated the amount of work needed to bring the Exa EHR up to 2014 edition standards.
At this point, it seems that Viztek founder and president Joe Cermin got really desperate to finish the certification process, as a failure to do so would have halted the company’s then-pending acquisition by KMHA and would result in the loss of millions of dollars. According to the whistleblower, Cermin told her that “I don’t care if you have to lie, beg, cheat, steal, or kill” to earn certification as long as she made it happen.
HISTalk offers a long list of the tricks Viztek developers used to fake compliance with certification standards, which you can find by scrolling down this page. In short, these cheats included choosing the remote testing option so it could manipulate the testing scenarios using a hard-coded product version that was never released and hard-coding the EHR to pass the XML output requirements for the Common MU Data Set by using programming found on an ONC testing website. Plus, they would ask for breaks to be able to create hard coded results to pass the test.
The bottom line was that the Exa EHR certification was bogus, and clients who relied upon it ended up submitting false claims.
The KMHA settlement is by no means the most spectacular of the False Claims whistleblower suits emerging from faked EHR certifications. Perhaps the granddaddy came in 2017, when eClinicalWorks settled a whistleblower suit alleging that it falsely obtained its EHR certification for $155 million.
Another example took place last year when EHR vendor Greenway Health agreed to pay the U.S. Department of Justice a $57.25 million fine to settle allegations that it falsely obtained its 2014 and 2011 federal certifications.