Epic Installation Fuels Maine Controversy

Ordinarily, the fact that integrated delivery system MaineHealth had spent $150 million on an Epic EMR system wouldn’t excite a lot of comment.  After all, say what you like about Epic, it doesn’t come cheaply, and a $150 million install is at the low-ish end of what hospitals are spending to put the vendor’s system in place.

This time, though, the health system is taking fire from the community, in part because it’s decided to close 22-bed St. Andrews Hospital in Boothbay Harbor, reports EHR Intelligence. 

In an open letter published in the Boothbay Register, local selectman and St. Andrews Regional Task Force member Stuart Smith argues that the Epic install cost is “extremely high.”

Smith also notes that Maine Health has had a bad time with the installation, which was supposed to go live on December 1, 2012 and now looks as though it won’t go live until 2015.  As Smith sees it, a lot of money and time is being wasted on the Epic project:

Millions of dollars have been charged to member hospitals and staff time (salaries and mileage) over the past 2–3 years with no benefit. The system failure also adds operational costs going forward that were not planned for and regional consolidation of finance will now be delayed.

As things stand, Smith notes, the planned closure of St. Andrews is part of a larger shuffle moving urgent and emergency services around which has led to roughly $2 million in losses for the facility.

With St. Andrews wobbly, leaders are considering merging it with struggling Miles Memorial Hospital, a combination which could allow its owners to keep $5 million in federal reimbursement by keeping its critical access hospital designation.

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.

1 Comment

  • After decades in IT including both development and project leadership, I’m not so surprised anymore when major projects like this go way over budget. However, one would think that enough of these rollouts had been done that the costs would be relatively predictable. One ought to know the licensing costs, along with hardware, training, telecom and the like. However, I’ve heard far too many stories of how institutions have purchased insufficient hardware, don’t have enough trainers and training time, don’t buy fast enough telecom, assume that current networks will do the job, and the like. I also understand that sometimes those planning the work will lowball their estimates to get the work or to get approval, hoping that if they are wrong that more money can be found.

    Ron

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