Emory Healthcare's CIO on why the health system switched from Oracle Cerner to Epic

Atlanta-based Emory Healthcare switched its EHR from Oracle Cerner to Epic on Oct. 1, joining several health systems that have gone to Epic this month.

Becker's reached out to Sheila Sanders, CIO of the 11-hospital system, to see how the go-live is going and to learn more about the reasoning for the swap.

Question: What were the main factors in switching Emory Healthcare's EHR to Epic?

Sheila Sanders: The integration of clinical with revenue cycle was important to us, as well as the scheduling capabilities. We were also running on two older billing platforms.

Q: What benefits do you expect patients and providers to see from the switch to Epic?

SS: We previously had several portals and will be moving to one patient portal with MyChart. We believe our patients will like the ability to do electronic check-in for appointments, self-scheduling appointments and pay their bills online and from their phones. Our clinicians are excited to have one EHR across all of our sites, instead of multiple systems previously. 

Q: What goes on behind the scenes to make an EHR switch happen?

SS: We spent almost two years in building, testing and training our team. Over 1,000 providers and staff participated in our project in advisory groups, work groups and clinical leadership groups, giving an incredible amount of their time to make this happen.

Q: How much of your Epic EHR will be in the cloud, and do you plan a full-scale cloud migration?

SS: Our modernized analytics platform is in the cloud and we will be assessing a move for the EHR in the future with our next refresh.

Q: Having gone through the process, what advice would you give other health systems thinking about switching EHRs?

SS: These projects move very quickly, and you will need to have a strong governance process and the commitment of time from your leaders. 

Q: Are you able to quantify how much the switch to Epic will cost (or, conversely, will it save money)?

SS: Reducing the number of systems we run will reduce our costs over time. Having better device and system integration will hopefully be a satisfier for our clinicians and staff in a time of staffing shortages.

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