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Health IT Vendor Surescripts Settles Antitrust Lawsuit with FTC

The FTC has reached a settlement with Surescripts that prohibits the health IT vendor from executing non-compete agreements with employees.

Health IT vendor Surescripts has settled its case with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) without monetary penalties.

The FTC filed an antitrust lawsuit against Surescripts in April 2019 for allegedly monopolizing the ePrescribing market and pressuring EHR vendor Allscripts to keep its business.

“Surescripts is proud to have pioneered electronic prescribing that has brought enormous value to patients and care providers alike,” Frank Harvey, CEO of Surescripts, said in a public statement. “For more than two decades, Surescripts has delivered innovations that increase patient safety, lower costs, and ensure quality care.”

“We’re pleased that this agreement brings an end to the FTC’s litigation, formalizing changes to our business practices that we started several years ago, including the elimination of loyalty provisions in contracts,” Harvey added. “We are committed to continuous innovation and remain focused on serving our customers who make up the Surescripts Network Alliance and ultimately the patients they serve.”

According to Surescripts officials, the FTC’s case relied on factual errors about the vendor’s business and “mischaracterizations about the economic realities of the ePrescribing market.”

Since 2009, Surescripts has reduced average ePrescribing transaction fees by 77 percent. Additionally, Surescripts has improved the accuracy of ePrescriptions by more than 200 percent since 2016.

“As a trusted health information network, Surescripts helps doctors, pharmacists, and other healthcare providers communicate with each other as a team, sharing information to increase patient safety, lower costs, and ensure quality care,” said Harvey. “We look forward to continuing to simplify health intelligence sharing and bring even greater innovation and experience to the healthcare industry.”

The proposed order prohibits Surescripts from engaging in exclusionary conduct and executing or enforcing non-compete agreements with current and former employees.

“The FTC will not hesitate to take action in enforcing the antitrust laws to protect health care consumers,” Holly Vedova, FTC Bureau of Competition director, said in a press release.

Specifically, the proposed order:

  • Prohibits Surescripts from entering, maintaining, or enforcing contracts that impose a majority share requirement on its routing and eligibility customers, including through all-unit discounting.
  • Prohibits Surescripts from implementing “other problematic provisions it has used in the past to prevent or limit the ability of customers to do business with Surescripts’ competitors.”
  • Restricts Surescripts from preventing customers from promoting competitors’ services, preventing and limiting customers’ ability to communicate with competitors, and requiring that customers provide Surescripts with a right of first refusal.
  • Bars Surescripts from entering, maintaining, or enforcing agreements that prevent rivals from competing with the vendor in routing and eligibility.
  • Forbids Surescripts from discriminating against or threatening customers who refuse to agree to a majority share requirement.
  • Bars Surescripts from entering or enforcing any employee non-compete agreement with current and former employees that would prevent those employees from working for a competing ePrescribing service provider.

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