Electronic health and fitness data (EHR) provider Athena has agreed to pay out $18.25 million to settle statements the enterprise was included in an illegal kickback scheme. 

Athenahealth Inc., an EHR seller primarily based in Watertown, Massachusetts, was accused of conducting kickback offers in get to market the sale of athenaClinicals by whistleblowers.

AthenaClinicals a world-wide-web-centered EHR portal for accessing health care documentation, client information, and exchanging knowledge among treatment websites. The software package is touted as a implies for health care experts to “concentration on providing care.”

On Thursday, the US Division of Justice (DoJ) said that Athena’s settlement will lay accusations of violating the Fake Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute (AKS) to relaxation. 

US prosecutors allege that involving 2014 by way of September 2020, Athena provided kickbacks to health care vendors and other EHR suppliers to induce them into paying for AthenaClinicals application. 

According to the criticism, 3 marketing and advertising systems have been made use of to allegedly facilitate the scheme. Potential and current consumers were invited to complimentary, all-costs-paid “Concierge Functions” furnishing amusement — like entry to the Masters Tournament and NFL video games — and a “Guide Era” program paid out customers up to $3,000 for each and every new medical professional signed up “no matter of how considerably time, if any, the present shopper invested talking to or meeting with the new consumer,” the DoJ said.

In addition, Athena allegedly entered into promotions with competing sellers that have been setting up to exit the EHR business and paid out them for referrals that converted into new customers. 

“By providing and spending this unlawful remuneration in funds and in sort, Athena submitted and caused its EHR clientele to post to federal health care courses phony or fraudulent statements that resulted from violations of the AKS,” the US agency claims. 

The lawsuit, collectively with a independent declare, were being both equally submitted less than the whistleblower provisions of the Bogus Claims Act in 2017 and later on consolidated. These provisions let citizens to sue on behalf of the US federal government. 

The individuals that flagged Athena’s documented kickback plan may well be entitled to payment from the federal government, but figures are nonetheless to be decided. 

In whole, $9.12 million out of the $18.25 million settlement has been staked as “restitution” for the United States.

“This resolution demonstrates the department’s continued motivation to hold EHR companies accountable for the payment of unlawful kickbacks in any kind,” commented Acting Assistant Lawyer Basic Brian Boynton for the DOJ’s Civil Division. “EHR technologies performs an important purpose in the provision of healthcare treatment, and it is critical that the selection of an EHR system be created devoid of the affect of improper economical inducements.”

ZDNet has attained out to Athena for comment and will update when we hear again. 

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