Epic employees continue 'essential' travel, company cancels spring conference due to coronavirus pandemic

Jackie Drees -

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Epic is implementing work-from-home policies and canceling its annual Experts Group Meeting in Verona, Wis., next month. However, the EHR giant will continue to send employees on "essential" business trips.

The EHR giant on March 13 notified its customers and community partners of its decision to cancel the event, which was slated for April 27 through May 8. In an emailed statement to Becker's Hospital Review, Epic said it believes the cancellation is "the best option to keep our staff, customers and communities healthy." Around 9,000 guests were expected to attend the conference.

Epic is also allowing staff to work from home if they have tasks that can be completed remotely. The Verona-based headquarters will remain open for employees who are still able to come to the campus, according to the statement.

"As we continue to stay on top of changes to the COVID-19 situation at home and around the world, we are keeping the safety of our employees, community, customers and their patients top-of-mind," the statement reads. "Our campus design allows for a great deal of social distancing, which is one of the best strategies to help prevent community spread."

In a March 12 statement posted to its website, Epic said staff can cancel or postpone non-essential business travel, but employees who regularly travel outside Wisconsin to visit hospital and health system clients for "essential" business are required to continue traveling to work with these clients. If an employee prefers not to travel, they must find a replacement, the statement reads.

Essential travel includes visiting a hospital or health system client to assist with Epic EHR go-lives or helping them fix a software issue so they can resume caring for patients, the company spokesperson told Becker's. Epic is evaluating the essential business travel protocol, but the travel expectation is still being upheld as of 11 a.m. CDT, March 13.

"This is a time when everyone needs to help slow the spread of COVID-19. We’re tracking guidance from a number of organizations and trying to make the best decisions based on that guidance," Epic's statement reads. "We understand the situation is fluid, so we will continue to make adjustments as needed."

In addition to the remote work option, Epic is also providing hand sanitizer at the entrances and exits of cafeterias on campus as well as serving most food in individual to-go containers to increase sanitation.

As of 10:15 a.m. CDT, March 13, the U.S. has reported 1,268 cases of COVID-19, with 33 deaths.

Click here to view Epic's full COVID-19 update.

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