Illinois state board finds conflict of interest in U of Illinois' Epic contract

An Illinois state board determined April 17 there is evidence of a conflict of interest regarding an EHR implementation contract between Epic and Chicago-based University of Illinois Hospitals, according to NBC 5.

The issue has been referred to the state's Executive Ethics Commission for a public hearing. If a conflict of interest is found, the contract would have to be voided.

In September 2017, UI Health's board of trustees voted to move forward in the contracting process for an Epic EHR implementation. The board awarded the Verona, Wis.-based vendor a $62 million, seven-year deal. Three months later, Cerner filed a protest with Illinois' chief procurement office for higher education over the Epic contract, alleging the bidding process was unfair and tainted by a possible conflict of interest. Specifically, Cerner attorney Mara Georges told NBC 5 Epic's $62 million dollar bid would require separate implementation costs that would add another $75 to $100 million, whereas Cerner's proposed $60.6 million bid was all-encompassing.

At the April 17 meeting with the state's Procurement Board, Ms. Georges pointed to internal documents that showed a third company — Impact Advisers — offered input on the contract planning but would only offer its services for an Epic install.

"Clearly Impact Advisors was involved throughout, and at every step," Ms. Georges said, according to NBC 5. "They had a conflict of interest ... They had a financial interest in [ensuring] that Epic was the successful awardee."

The board concurred, "This isn't your money, it's not my money, it's the taxpayers' money," board member Bill Black said. "We're trying to figure out if the taxpayer gets the best value for his or her dollars."

However, the Chief Procurement Officer claimed no matter what EHR vendor the hospital choses, there would be high implementation costs, and the health system's CIO, Audrius Polikaitis, PhD, said the cost of replacing over 5,000 workstations could be more than $6 million.

An Epic spokesperson provided Becker's Hospital Review with the following statement: "UI Health has previously used both Epic and Cerner and they chose Epic for their system-wide EHR. We believe that organizations have a right to choose the solution they feel best meets their needs. It's unfortunate that a case of sour grapes is preventing that from happening."

This story was updated April 23, 2018 at 8:09 a.m. to include a statement from Epic.

More articles on EHRs:
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How many hospitals are on each stage of HIMSS Analytics' EMR Adoption Model?

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