Vanderbilt University Medical Center points to Epic rollout for 60% drop in operating income

Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center saw revenues increase in the first nine months of fiscal year 2018, but the hospital ended the period with lower operating income.

Here are four things to know about the hospital's most recent financial results.

1. VUMC reported revenues of $3.04 billion in the nine months ended March 31, up from revenues of $2.85 billion in the same period of the year prior, according to recently released bondholder documents. The hospital said the financial boost was primarily attributable to higher net patient service revenue, which climbed 5 percent year over year.

2. The hospital's operating expenses increased 9 percent year over year to nearly $3 billion in the first nine months of the current fiscal year. The hospital's expenses related to salaries, wages and benefits, as well as drug and supplies costs, increased year over year.

3. "The increase in salaries, wages and benefits is primarily due to increased staffing to meet additional demand associated with higher net patient service revenue, research contracts, and training costs for staff related to our EMR system implementation," VUMC said. Higher consulting and management fees related to the Epic EMR implementation also caused the hospital's expenses to rise.

4. VUMC ended the first nine months of fiscal year 2018 with operating income of $44.4 million, down 60 percent from $110 million in the same period a year earlier. The decline was largely attributable to higher expenses related to the rollout of the new EMR system. The hospital said it had planned for future operating income reductions due to the implementation.

"We successfully completed our EMR implementation in November and we anticipate the new system will yield future efficiencies," VUMC said. "However, in the year of implementation, increased operating expenses related to implementation caused a reduction in operating income. The EMR implementation put pressure on clinical volumes in the post-live period. Although we have achieved net patient services revenue in excess of our budget, the implementation has muted volumes."

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