Cerner files protest form over U of Illinois Health's proposed IT upgrade

Cerner filed a protest with Illinois' chief procurement office for higher education over its $62 million, seven-year contract awarded to Epic for the EHR overhaul at Chicago-based University of Illinois Health, alleging the bidding process was unfair and tainted by a possible conflict of interest, The News-Gazette reports.

The university's Integrated Information Infrastructure project, dubbed 3i, was tasked with updating and unifying UI Health's 20-year-old EHR and billing system. While Cerner currently manages about 70 percent of UI's health records, the hospital selected Epic Sept. 7 for its overhaul.

Cerner argues its bid was $1.5 million lower than Epic's and included all implementation costs whereas Epic's didn't, according to the protest filed in late September and reviewed by The News-Gazette. It suggested the total price could rise substantially if Epic wins the contract.

Officials from the UI and Epic declined to provide comment to The News-Gazette regarding Cerner's allegations as the protest is still being reviewed. However, documents from the state's chief procurement officer obtained by The News-Gazette through the Freedom of Information Act show the university claims its process was fair and compliant with procurement rules.

"We believe ... we followed proper processes throughout," Mike Zenn, CFO for UI Health, told UI trustees last month, according to The News-Gazette.

UI Health told Becker's Hospital Review in September it selected Epic after fielding a request for proposals. It ultimately chose Epic because it best met the requirements outlined in its RFP, which were "a combination of technical capabilities and pricing."

The project is on hold until the protest is resolved. If the state upholds the protest, UI Health would have to re-issue the original RFP with some changes, Mr. Zenn told The News-Gazette.

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