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Meritus Health Launches $100M Epic EHR Implementation Project

A Maryland health system recently started a $100 million Epic EHR implementation project, expected to take five years to complete.

Epic EHR

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Meritus Health in Maryland recently signed a $100 million deal for an integrated Epic EHR implementation, in a process set to take place over a five-year span.

The integrated EHR system will streamline patient care delivery for providers and improve health outcomes for patients.

The decision to opt for Epic followed an 18-month review process involving over 1,000 Meritus Health employees and officials. The health system considered six vendors before choosing the Wisconsin-based EHR company.

Meritus plans to invest the nearly $100 million in the project incrementally over the next five years. The sum will cover the complete modernization of its health records system as well as any labor costs accrued through training and hiring staff members to assist in the implementation process.

The health system plans to utilize various Epic modules including software to improve health records management and billing, Meritus officials told local news source Herald-Mail Media.

Meritus will also utilize Epic software designed to interface with pharmacy software in an effort to gain access to patient prescription records if given consent and authorization by a patient.

Additionally, patients will benefit from the ability to schedule appointments online and easily access their online health information through Epic’s patient portal, MyChart.

Meritus officials stated they have started integrating patient health records to create single, longitudinal EHRs for each patient in an effort to facilitate more informed patient care and clinical decision making.

Meritus officials added they hope to get information from other hospitals and private practices in the area entered into the EHR’s database soon to optimize the accuracy of patient care.

The implementation process at Meritus is already underway.

The health system has begun hiring additional information services experts and still needs to fill approximately 25 full-time positions to meet the demands of the hospital’s EHR implementation and development project.

Before siding with Epic, Meritus Health officials were seriously considering one other vendor. To make a final decision, Meritus officials visited a similar community-based health system with 250 to 300 beds to see how well the technology was suited to the environment.

Ultimately, Meritus Health officials felt Epic was a closer fit to their culture and hospital size.

"We preferred Epic over the two. (Our) clinicians particularly preferred Epic," President and CEO of Meritus Health Joseph P. Ross told Herald-Mail Media.

At the Value-Based Care summit earlier this summer, Vice President of Interoperability at Epic Peter DeVault recommended exactly this kind of decision making process when selecting an EHR.

DeVault joined Sequioa Project CEO Mariann Yeager in a panel discussion regarding the expectations for health IT companies in a value-based care environment.

When addressing the challenges of EHR selection, DeVault emphasized the importance of seeing how certain technologies operate in specific environments.

“The best advice for a provider buying health IT is not just to rely on the certification and on responses to the RFP the vendor provides, but to do site visits and reference calls,” he said. “You have to see it in action.”

Yeager concurred, and said that it is not as simple as a system being interoperable immediately “out of the box.”

“That requires a higher bar of testing for not just the movement and the transport, but also the content and the payload,” Yeager explained.

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