Cone Health Cites Capital Outlay for Epic as Factor in Negative S&P Outlook

Officials at Greensboro, N.C.-based Cone Health point to implementation costs related to a new Epic electronic health record system as part of the reason Standard & Poor's Ratings Services changed its outlook for Moses Cone Memorial Hospital from stable to negative, according to a Winston-Salem Journal report.

The Epic installation cost the hospital approximately $90 million, plus an additional $40 million in operating expenses over the next three years as well as 90 new hires to help maintain and operate the new system, according to the report. These expenses helped lead to the "deterioration in Cone Health's operating performance and in some aspects of its balance sheet over the last two fiscal years," the reason cited for the outlook change, according to the report.

The S&P outlook was also influenced by the hospital's revenue struggles over the past two years and declining Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

Cone Health is not the only North Carolina provider to point to its new EHR in the wake of a poor credit assessment. Last week, S&P lowered Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's debt rating from AA- to A+, largely due to the hospital's troubled Epic implementation, according to hospital officials.

Even in light of the S&P assessment, Cone Health officials remain confident about the future. "Cone Health remains financially strong despite that environment. While the negative outlook is disappointing, there is no cause for alarm," said Jeff Jones, the hospital's CFO, according to the report. "We are confident that we have the correct measures in place to meet the future healthcare needs of our communities."

More Articles on EHR Implementation:

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For Successful EHR Implementation Focus on the People, Not the Technology

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