Epic’s Youthful Horde

Being the remarkably smart and talented readers that you are, I have no doubt you were particularly smart youngsters too.  I’m betting that as 20-somethings, many of you stepped up and took on difficult projects that seemed to be over your heads, persevered, and somehow got them done anyway.  Being an upwardly-mobile young pro has its place, definitely.

The question is, is that place at the heart of a multimillion-dollar EMR installation project?  Can a young man or woman with modest amounts of healthcare experience really make the right calls, time after time, required to make the EMR battleship turn on command?

Our beloved industry figurehead, Epic, has made that bet. Epic famously floods the halls of hospitals with overworked, feverishly ambitious 20-somethings who are supposed to make up in genius what they lack in long-term healthcare experience.

The experience can be bumpy.  CIOs have complained to KLAS that the hip young Epic gang doesn’t have everything it takes.  The 20-somethings, in turn, have lashed back, in one case allegedly trying to get a CIO fired who apparently wasn’t doing things their way.

If Epic can ride herd on its young hires, it can doubtless pad its profit margins substantially. Staffing up for the giant projects it takes on, and seeing them through years of growing pains, could be ludicrously expensive if if Epic insisted on only hiring grizzled HIT veterans.

Eventually, though, my prediction is that something’s gotta give. If you’re pitching yourself as the backbone of billion-dollar enterprises, there’s a limit to how long you can convince CIOs to work with consultants their childrens’ age.  What’s more, as the pace of Meaningful Use requirements picks up, hospitals will have more to lose if the cut-rate genius squad can’t cut it.

Epic does have a huge level of momentum, so it’s not going to get penalized for a while. But my guess is that at some point, a few influential CIOs are going to call Epic out on its inexperienced bench and break the spell the industry has been under.

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.


  • Just having decent IT and project management experience is helpful. Plus having an understanding of how hospitals and things medical work. I find myself really wondering about EPIC. If it uses mainly badly overworked, undertrained kids (who presumably burn out and leave after a while), how can it ever hope to do a good job? Or does it care? I’m also told they use an extremely old, obsolete programming language, another big concern. And people I’ve encountered who’ve worked on EPIC installations tell me to avoid them like the plague.

    In one sense though I don’t care. I’m not currently working; I’d take a job on any decent project on Long Island just to provide for my family – and to get experience at EMR installations. But I also know that by what is said of EPIC and other things I hear, I’m too old, too experienced overall, but don’t have official HealthIT credentials other then what I’ll get from my training, so that as a result it will be very hard for me to get work even though hospitals seem to be painfully short of the experienced staff they need to put in modern EMR systems that actually work for them.

    Does anyone else see this differently?

  • John….you must be telepathic as I was having the exact same thoughts about EPIC.

    Something’s gotta give……….

  • This is an age-old issue. Large consulting firms have been doing this for years and a serious issue being so many failed implementations. They save serious HR costs and charge the client huge fees for iteration after iteration.

  • “Seasoned” professionals are wiser and don’t normally make the mistakes of someone in their 20s. In the end, it’s probably less expensive to hire the wiser individual as they will do it right the first time and understand the value of the customer base.

    Hospitals need to hold these vendors/consulting firms accountable. The vendors know that large hospital systems are huge bureacracies. Individuals are less likely to blow the whistle like a small business owner would. A hospital that takes a more pro-active approach will cut costs and have a vendor that is more responsive.

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