- University of Vermont (UVM) Health Network leadership recently testified before the Green Mountain Care Board in an effort to gain approval for a new Epic EHR replacement that may cost up to $200 million.
The EHR replacement would upgrade systems at all UVM Health Network doctor’s offices, as well as UVM Medical Center in Burlington, Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, and Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh New York.
Officials say many systems in place at the four network hospitals slated for replacement have reached the end of their lifespan. Presently, there are dozens of different EHR systems at each hospital.
While the Epic implementation would cost up to $200 million, Epic will offset existing system and staffing costs to lower the amount UVM Health Network must pay to about $151.7 million over six years.
As the network’s flagship hospital, UVM Medical Center would pay $137.3 million of that sum. About $109.3 million would go toward capital costs, and $85.9 million would account for operating costs. Anticipated revenue and savings would further reduce this projected number.
Epic will give UVM Medical Center $30.7 million in revenue via subscription fees that smaller hospitals pay to use the Epic EHR. UVM Medical Center also expects $27.1 million in system and staffing savings. Smaller hospitals within the network can also expect some savings as well, but UVM Medical will reap the most.
UVM Health Network Vice President of Finance Marc Stanislas told VTDigger the network used the same financial principles to project the costs and savings for Epic as it did to estimate the cost of the new inpatient wing currently under construction at the hospital.
“Our approach to this was to build fair and reasonable assumptions,” Stanislas told the news source. “There’s going to be pluses. There’s going to be minuses. But at the end of the day the hope is that they balance.”
UVM Medical Center plans to pay for the capital costs of the EHR replacement so that it will hold the license for the system.
Physicians and leadership at the health network are optimistic about the positive effect the EHR system will have on patient care and clinical efficiency. UVM Health Network CEO John Brumsted, MD said the project is a significant step forward for healthcare across Vermont. The health network’s CIO Adam Buckley, MD said patients and doctors alike will be happier with the Epic system because all patient health records and administrative data will be in one place.
Buckley also stated his support for Epic is bolstered by its growing popularity in the Northeast. Academic medical centers and health systems in the region are increasingly adopting the systems, and about 95 percent of patients in the Midwest already have EHRs in Epic. Furthermore, Buckley stated Epic has an 87 percent success rate for completing implementations on time and within budget.
Streamlined care coordination and smoother transitions of care will be a standout advantage of implementing a single, comprehensive EHR system at four UVM Health Network hospitals.
According to Porter Medical Center CEO Fred Kniffin, MD, about 300 of Porter Medical’s sickest patients are transferred from the emergency department to UVM Medical Center each year. This transition of care generally requires physicians to print out a patient’s health record and attach it to the patient’s stretcher as they travel between facilities. With the new Epic system, physicians will be able to easily access each patient’s health record electronically.
The Green Mountain Care Board will issue a decision in the next 90 days.