Considering An Epic Journey In 2013? Think Twice

Edmund Billings | Medsphere | December 6, 2012

Faced with healthcare reform and any number of other enduring challenges, hospitals shouldn’t expect next year to be any easier than the one that’s currently winding down. Yes, that’s my grand prognostication for 2013—things will still be difficult.

While I may sound glib, in all seriousness I want to focus on one challenge among the many, that of operational efficiencies and health IT affordability. Meaningful Use is the specter that continues to hover over hospitals and health IT, and in large measure the response of hospitals to being haunted by federal incentives has been to purchase huge, massively expensive solutions like Epic and Cerner. Both systems have an impressive number of bells and whistles, many of which actually improve care.  And both companies are buffed to a high sheen in their presentation of solutions it seems only a damned fool could reject. Reportedly, Epic’s Judy Faulkner selects company clients, not the other way around. Who wouldn’t want to be part of the club? It’s the place to be, after all.

Unless, of course, you want to run your hospital budget in the black. Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) spent about $80 million on Epic in 2011 and since then have said they expect weak operating performance in the near future in part due to the costs of their health IT system. In truth, DHMC got something of a deal, at least by comparison. As widely reported in 2012, look at what other hospital systems spent on Epic...