Contractors bash firm hired to help with Mayo's Epic implementation

Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic contracted with a health IT consulting firm to provide expert Epic trainers who would help with its massive EHR overhaul. However, a number of the temporary employees have left the project, citing mismanaged assignments, housing troubles and harsh treatment from the firm, HCI Group, according to Minnesota Public Radio.

Seven licensed nurses HCI recruited to teach Mayo's employees how to use the new software told MPR that although they have experience and expertise using Epic in their respective specialties, HCI did not assign them to coach in those areas, and their skills were virtually useless. In one instance, a nurse with Epic expertise in intensive care and the operating room was assigned to radiology.

That nurse, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told MPR HCI leadership created the impression contracted employees should improvise if necessary or face termination. "In healthcare, you don't 'fake it till you make it.' You don't go out there and do your job until you know what you're doing," she said.

Another nurse, who did not want to be named, told MPR HCI did not allow unscheduled bathroom breaks during training, and others said HCI's poor housing accommodation plans left them waiting hours to receive their hotel room assignments.  

"We'd been told that you just arrive, you'll be given your room assignment and then go and rest,"  Kumbi Madiye, a nurse practitioner from Cleveland recruited by HCI for the project, told MPR. She waited 14 hours in a hotel lobby to get her room assignment, and finally, at 11 p.m., she was given a space at a hotel located an hour and a half away.

The housing dilemma meant HCI had to delay training by one day — a day the contractors aren't sure they'll be paid for. And this wouldn't be the first time HCI stiffed its contractors. The firm recently agreed to pay $3.2 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a group of workers claiming HCI owed them overtime.

Although Mayo declined to comment on a vendor's personnel issues, it said the Epic overhaul has been going smoothly. HCI agreed, admitting it faced "small unforeseen challenges" early on.

More articles on EHRs:
Cerner collaborates with rehab data company
GAO: Medical records are still too challenging to obtain — 7 things to know
Meet Epic's newly registered lobbying firm, Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas

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