Epic Investment May Have Prompted CIO’s Departure

As Forbes notes, Epic Systems has a gold-plated reputation in the hospital C-suite. In fact, we’re at the point where it’s accepted wisdom that you can’t lose your job for picking Epic.

But this time, it may actually have happened.  Barry Blumenfeld, former chief information officer at Maine Medical Center in Portland, seems to  have ended up leaving in part because of the financial impact of the hospital’s $160 million Epic buy, Forbes reports.

It’s worth noting that Maine Medical Center had other financial problems in addition to the cost of the Epic implementation. It’s also important to bear in mind that the Epic install seems to have gone badly, slowing collections and thereby cutting revenue. But the fact remains that the big-ticket Epic purchase wasn’t a golden ticket for Blumenfeld.

According to Forbes, other stories of career-mangling Epic disasters are popping up as well. For example, it noted that the chief information officer of Wake Forest Baptist Health recently resigned in the middle of a troubled Epic launch.

Sheila Sanders, who was also VP of information technology, had been on board since 2009, hired to direct the facility’s IT overhaul, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. The Journal piece notes that Wake Forest, too, has seen expected revenue delayed due to problems with the Epic rollout. The hospital had spent about $13.3 milion on Epic, and now cites $8 million in Epic-related implementation expense and $26.6 million in lost margin due to volume disruptions related to go-live issues.

Of course, a CIO can lose their job if any EMR they’re implementing calamitously fails to live up to expectations, be it Epic or another platform. But these anecdotes suggest that the high expense associated with an Epic rollout — and perhaps just as importantly, high expectations — can do more to damage a CIO’s reputation than some might think.

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.

10 Comments

  • The tables are turned. Normally its the implementation staff that quit after endless weekends/nights of implementing Epic.

  • Two problems I see with EHR/EMR, and this is from experience….one is companies are not hiring qualified people to do implementations and if/when they do, they try to hard to keep customer happy instead of, implementing the program the way it is suppose to be implemented; what i mean is clients complain and instead of management informing them, trust us this is the best way to do XYZ, they try to make customer happy change things, and what you know, headaches….Two, people just don’t like change, healthcare are employed to help patients not sit at a desk or type on a computer, however the world has changed and so must healthcare, management NEED to inform medical staff, this is what healthcare has come to, we all need to approach it with an open mind and make this thing happen…Lastly, there are people out there who have implemented EHR’s for over 10 years and can help people with workflow analysis, and staffing… just a tip, also CNA’S are more willing to learn, most are young and love technology, they are cheaper than nurse’s and they are taught basic acute care… so think of putting CNA’s on your staff, to operate your EHR and let the nurses take some of the work off the provider and let the provider deal with the major stuff, it works trust me…It’s not the EMR systems although some are better than others, BUT it’s usually not the systems, it’s the users

  • What is up with Epic’s revenue cycle application? Is it a given that implementing it results in millions of dollars in lost charges and an institutional financial emergency? It seems to be a VERY common story, and well worth investigating. Not only are charges being lost, but patient volumes are still not where they were before the implementation (and this is 1 year later). The projection is that we MIGHT be at pre-Epic volume in a couple of years. How can this waste of scarce healthcare dollars be acceptable?

  • To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything about the Epic revenue cycle application. I didn’t realize they had a revenue cycle specific application. I’ll have to ask around and see what I can learn.

    What you describe is the opposite of what most experience with revenue cycle. In fact, many revenue cycle companies only get paid if they improve revenue.

  • I believe the reference is to : Epic Resolute for HB and PB. And “just a clinician” is correct, revenue will decline during implementation. But after a few years, ours started to come back up – not back to where we had been given patient volume, but its only been 3 years.

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