A national electronic health records (EHR) technology vendor based in Watertown, Massachusetts, athenahealth Inc. (Athena), has agreed to pay $18.25 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by paying unlawful kickbacks to generate sales of its EHR product, athenaClinicals, the Justice Department announced today.
In a complaint filed in conjunction with today’s settlement, the United States alleged that Athena violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Statute through three marketing programs. First, Athena invited prospective and existing customers to “Concierge Events,” providing free tickets to and amenities at sporting, entertainment, and recreational events, including trips to the Masters Tournament and the Kentucky Derby with complimentary travel and luxury accommodations, meals, and alcohol. Second, Athena paid kickbacks to its existing customers under a “Lead Generation” program designed to identify and refer new prospective clients to Athena. Under this program, Athena paid up to $3,000 to existing customers for each new client that signed up for Athena services, regardless of how much time, if any, the existing customer spent speaking to or meeting with the new client. Finally, Athena entered into deals with competing vendors that were discontinuing their EHR technology offerings to refer their clients to Athena. Under such deals, Athena paid remuneration to the competitor based on the value and volume of practices that were successfully converted into Athena clients.
The original full article can be found at justice.gov
(Photo: Darlene Devita)