Class action lawsuit in Miami-Dade targets Allscripts

Brian Bandell | Business Journal | January 3, 2013

A lawsuit filed in Miami-Dade County Circuit Court seeks class action status for doctors who use the MyWay electronic health records (EHR) from Allscripts Healthcare Solutions. Panama City-based Pain Clinic of Northwest FL filed a purported class action lawsuit on Dec. 20 against Chicago-based Allscripts (NASDAQ: MDRX). It says that about 5,000 small group physicians were sold MyWay from 2009 until late last year, when the company stopped supporting the product...The company was also hit with a federal shareholder class action securities fraud lawsuit in the Northern Illinois District last year over allegations that it misled investors about the performance of its EHR programs.

MyWay, which cost about $40,000 per physician to implement, had “shortcoming and inherent defects” and Allscripts misled Pain Clinic of Northwest FL owner Dr. Robert Joseph about the quality of the program before he purchased it in June 2012, according to the complaint...“Allscripts has been unjustly enriched by retaining the money paid by MyWay purchasers and users without delivering an EHR software product that performs as it was intended to work,” the complaint states...

In addition to unjust enrichment, the complaint also alleges breach of warranty by Allscripts...[in addition] The complaint claims that Allscripts imposed thousands of dollars in fees on users to release their data back to them should they chose to work with a different EHR company...

Open Health News' Take: 


This class action lawsuit is about everything that is wrong with proprietary EHRs.

The more than 5,000 physician offices that bought into this proprietary EHR are now locked-in to a discontinued product that failed to live to its marketing hype and did not meet meaningful use requirements. So now, after having to spend enourmous amounts of money to install the product and train their staff, these medical offices are now being forced to scrap everything and start from scratch again. Unfortunately, this is not going to be an isolated case. There are over 1,000 EHRs currently out in the market and as the industry matures most of them are going to go out of business. That is going to leave tens of thousands of physician offices, clinics, and hospitals holding the bag.

Had these physician offices chosen an open source EHR such as VistA, RPMS, or OpenEMR, they would have had the ability to add any functionality to the product that they needed. In addition, as with any open source product, if the original solution provider providers poor service and support, or goes out of business, they can just find another one.

In addition, as stated in the article, the "complaint claims that Allscripts imposed thousands of dollars in fees on users to release their data back to them should they chose to work with a different EHR company." This is another major problem with proprietary EHRs. Lock-in EHR companies use proprietary data formats in order keep the data hostage. It forces their customers to pay exhorbitant fees to gain access to their data. Open source EHRs give the customers full access to their data in standard formats. 

This lawsuit is going to be very important as it targets the very nature of the lock-in software business model that pervades the healthcare industry. The victims will most likely win this, as well as many other upcoming class action lawsuits against proprietary EHR vendors. Yet lawsuits is not the real solution, it is migrating to an open source, open data, collaborative model.

Roger A. Maduro, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Open Health News.