How long Epic EHR implementations take

Epic implementations can take years but health systems can start going live with the EHR in a matter of months, a company leader told Becker's.

At smaller health systems, nine-to-12-month Epic installs are "very common now," said Epic implementation executive Nick Frenzer. "It's not necessarily to rush but so they get the benefit as quickly as possible."

Larger health systems can have their first go-lives in 16 to 18 months with subsequent rollouts every six months, Mr. Frenzer said.

Those implementation timelines are helped along by Epic's "foundation system," a default EHR based on best practices from other customers, that can allow health systems to focus more on change management and training.

"So it becomes very iterative very quickly, but you don't wait an entire five years to bring the system up," Mr. Frenzer of the bigger installs. "You bring sites up and then you start to roll out, and that's where that change management becomes really impactful."

Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth recently completed a $660 million Epic deployment to 52 hospitals in about four years. Meanwhile, Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity Health expects to wrap up an $800 million, 101-hospital Epic implementation in June 2025 after starting in early 2020 (with a nine-month pause because of the pandemic).

The main contrast with larger Epic installs is that "you need to build an additional layer of change management, of training," Mr. Frenzer said. "So," for instance, "the hospital in Kansas knows what the hospital in Texas is doing."

"And ideally, we align and standardize those workflows to drive efficiency," he added. "But recognizing there might be a regulation, there might be a physical constraint in place, and ensuring that you're adapting those across scale is really the difference there. But that core of configuring the system, testing it and training it remains the same."

Larger health systems typically introduce the EHR by geographic markets. AdventHealth, for example, finished up in the Denver area, while Trinity's next go-live is scheduled for New England in May.

"It's an exercise in: How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time?" Mr. Frenzer said. "You might also look strategically at what are the sites that have more of a burning platform to get live versus sites that are OK waiting a little bit longer. And that way you have a foundation and you roll it out and they get smoother and smoother each time."

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