How Epic, Cerner, Meditech are approaching COVID-19 employee vaccine protocols 

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As more hospitals and health systems move to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for employees, EHR vendors Epic, Cerner and Meditech are keeping a close watch to inform their own policies. 

Houston Methodist leads a growing list of health systems that require employees to get the vaccine. The health system gave its workers a deadline of June 7 at midnight to get the shot; one day later, nearly 100 percent had complied, with 24,947 workers being fully vaccinated. 

The health system met some resistance, specifically a lawsuit filed May 28 by a Houston Methodist nurse and 116 other workers, who argued that the mandate is illegal and forces workers to get an experimental vaccine to keep their jobs. A federal judge dismissed that lawsuit June 12, ruling that the health system did not violate state or federal law or public policy with the requirement. 

For three of the biggest EHR vendors in the U.S., which collectively make up a total 72 percent of the hospital EHR market share, vaccine mandates for workers are not currently in place. 

Where the big three stand on COVID-19 vaccine protocols: 

Epic 

Verona, Wis.-based Epic is requiring employees to start returning to its campus, at least part-time, next month. It told Becker's Hospital Review that it is not making employees get the vaccine to return to work but is "watching this closely" and expects more healthcare organizations to implement vaccine mandates after the vaccines get full FDA approval. 

"We are in healthcare and work closely with healthcare leaders and end users in care areas where patients are treated," Kristen Dresen, a member of Epic's administration team, told Becker's in an emailed statement June 9. "Because of this, vaccination becomes an essential part to ensure we can continue to safely do this important work together." 

Epic said 94 percent of its staff is fully vaccinated or almost fully vaccinated. While the EHR company did not issue incentives for getting the shot, Ms. Dresen said Epic "made it as easy as we could" by hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics on-site, where 3,500 of the company's 9,400 staff on campus were vaccinated. 

Cerner 

Fresh off announcing plans to launch a new hybrid work model this fall, which will let employees decide between working at its Kansas City, Mo.-based headquarters or from a remote location, Cerner has also refrained from issuing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers. 

Employee vaccinations are strongly encouraged, Eva Karp, DHA, RN-BC, senior vice president and chief clinical and patient safety officer at Cerner, told Becker's June 11. 

"At Cerner, one of our core mission statements is 'Healthcare is too important to stay the same,'" Ms. Karp said. "Our associates are working to improve healthcare across the globe, and many have been eager to get vaccinated, not requiring incentives to do so."

The EHR vendor held a three-month mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic at its campus headquarters this year, where nearly 100,000 Kansas City area residents received the shot. Several Cerner employees volunteered at the clinic and received their vaccinations there, Ms. Karp said. 

Meditech 

Westwood, Mass.-based Meditech has also opted not to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for its workers. It told Becker's June 11 that it has been offering workers more personal hours as incentive to get the shot, so they have the time to do so. 

Employees who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to wear masks and social distance when coming into the office, per CDC guidelines. 

Meditech is also requiring all staff to do a health check before entering its facilities to keep "our office a healthy environment," the company said. 

Editor's note: Allscripts did not respond to Becker's inquiries to participate in this report.

 

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