Viztek (A Former Konica Minolta Subsidiary) Joins The EHR Certification Scandal Club

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.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

2 Comments

  • I’m unsure what this “journalist” stands to obtain from creating an article that features an opinion based on unsubstantiated research.

    Viztek’s 2017 whistleblower lawsuit stemmed from a 2014 incident. KMHA acquired Viztek in October 2015. This “journalist” states Viztek was a subsidiary of KMHA when the whisteblower incident took place, which based on the timeline of the acquisition that is impossible.

    KMHA settled the whistleblower lawsuit as a business decision and likely because they didn’t want “journalists” to smear their reputation. KMHA would have had no knowledge of the whistleblower lawsuit because it happened AFTER their acquisition of Viztek.

    Furthermore, common sense dictates, had KMHA known about the whistleblower lawsuit they probably wouldn’t have continued with the acquiring of Viztek. 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.” Don’t you think if Cermin was telling others to lie about their EHR in 2014 that he also was also telling others to lie to KMHA in 2015 in order to ensure a complete acquisition?

  • Thanks for your passion in making sure that the details are right in the article. The article didn’t state that Viztek was a subsidiary of KMHA when the whistleblower incident took place. The article didn’t say either way, but I see how it could have been read the wrong way, so I added a detail to clarify that the incident happened prior to KMHA’s acquisition of Viztek to make sure it’s clear.

    The article also doesn’t make any assumptions about KMHA’s guilt or knowledge of the incident. Just the fact that they acquired the company and are being assessed the damages. We won’t make assumptions about why they did.

    And as far as them not buying Viztek if they knew about the whistleblower lawsuit, that’s not always true. Allscripts knew about the Practice Fusion whistleblower lawsuit and still acquired them. Admittedly, they acquired them at a $100 million discount which was what the final damages was from the lawsuit.

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