6 health systems that blamed Epic, Cerner EHR installs for losing millions

EHR implementations are costly, and in some cases health systems have taken an unexpected financial hit related to the transition.

Here are six examples of health systems that blamed EHR transitions for millions in operating losses, decreased operating income and lowered bond ratings in the past three years.

1. University of Vermont Health Network said its $151.7 million Epic EHR implementation was partially responsible for its $10 million operating loss in the first quarter of 2020. The implementation cost more than initially expected and physician productivity decreased as the physicians adjusted to the new system.

2. In March 2018, officials at Ector County Health District blamed its Cerner EHR implementation, in part, for financial losses and a bond downgrade by Fitch Ratings. It also received an issuer default rating. The year before, the hospital reported operating loss of $77 billion. The system's CFO reported that there were issues with its $55 million Cerner implementation that led to challenges with its accounts receivable.

3. Centra Health in Lynchburg, Va., posted a loss for the first nine months of 2018, including a $2.7 million operating loss and $18.8 million decrease in net operating income, which it attributed to the first phase of its $65 million Cerner go-live. The system used resources during the ramp-up period and then reduced clinic volumes during the implementation process.

4. Covenant Health, a Tewksbury, Mass.-based health system, cited its $83 million Epic EHR implementation for a $60.9 million operating loss in 2018. The hospital reported a 30 percent decrease in productivity after the implementation, as well as physician turnover, which contributed to its financial issues.

5. Vanderbilt University Medical Center reported lower operating income in the first nine months of 2018 after a $214 million EHR roll-out. The year before, the system reported $110 million operating income. It also reported a 9 percent increase in expenses.

6. Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, Ohio, reported $22.8 million operating loss for 2018, up from $1.9 million in 2017, and the hospital's CFO, Sky Gettys, attributed the loss to "the expense of installing and activating a new electronic medical record system," according to Columbus Business First. He told the paper that after the one-time implementation expense.

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