It’s no secret that rolling out an Epic EMR is a big-ticket investment. What’s also becoming apparent is that some of the hospitals that take the plunge can’t really afford to pay for what they’ve bought, much less staff and develop an Epic presence.
The latest Epic EMR financial casualty to cross my desk is Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center which, according to the Winston-Salem Journal, saw a $55.1 million operational loss partly due its Epic rollout during fiscal 2012-13.
In a regulatory filing directed to bond investors, Wake Forest Baptist said that the Epic implementation had a substantial negative impact on fiscal 2013 due to both direct implementation costs and associated indirect expenses, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
While the hospital’s stock investment gains of about $54 million helped offset most of the operational loss, leaving the overall loss at a much smaller $571,000, this fiscal year’s performance is still much worse than the previous year, when Wake Forest had $45.8 million in operational revenue and overall excess revenue of $88.7 million, the newspaper reports.
But the direct expenses and development costs weren’t the real capper, the newspaper said. The biggest Epic-related blow to Wake Forest Baptist came from $53.7 million in indirect impact, including $36.9 million of lost margin due to volume disruptions during the initial go-live and post go-live optimization. On top of that, the hospital reported $16.8 million in other Epic-related implementation expenses.
And that led to a shakeup in the C-suite. Giving the lie to the notion that nobody ever got in trouble for buying Epic, earlier this year, the hospital’s chief information officer of Wake Forest Baptist resigned in the middle of the troubled Epic launch.
In the article, the newspaper reports that Wake Forest Baptist “remains confident in Epic’s long-term benefit to the center”, and that hospital CEO Dr. John McConnell believes that the install “was absolutely necessary for patient safety,” he told the Winston-Salem Journal .
While it may turn out to be true that Wake Forest Baptist will be able to improve patient safety using its Epic EMR, in the mean time it’s having cut back on staff to pay for that gain. According to the newspaper, the center had planned to eliminate at least 950 jobs during the recent fiscal year; some were not eliminated but may be during this fiscal year.