While top leaders leave Denver Health, CEO says Epic rollout is under budget and on time

Come April, Denver Health is scheduled to go live on its new Epic EHR. Although the system's CEO says implementation remains under budget, concerns about the investment remain, largely from the health system's former CIO, reports The Denver Post.

Gregory Veltri served as CIO of Denver Health from March 1997 to October 2013, according to his LinkedIn page. His departure in October 2013 came approximately one year after the system changed CEOs: Arthur Gonzalez assumed the chief executive position in September 2012, replacing Patricia Gabow, PhD, who retired after 20 years at the helm.

According to The Denver Post, Mr. Veltri resigned due to a disagreement regarding the system's switch to Epic's EHR. Mr. Veltri told The Denver Post he was concerned the implementation's costs could reach $300 million, including $70 million to pay the contractor and costs associated with adding more IT staff. "My estimates weren't flattering," he said in the report. Mr. Veltri warned that the cost could bankrupt a hospital already operating on thin financial margins.

Mr. Gonzalez told The Denver Post Mr. Veltri was "held in good regard," but added the former CIO was "severely mistaken." He said the Epic implementation is under budget at $170 million. He did not disclose the overall projected cost of the implementation.

According to the report, Denver Health finalized plans to move forward with Epic in April 2014. Since then, the health system has built a temporary building to house the Epic implementation team and hired "the required" 125-person staff.

The investment in Epic and the needed staff comes shortly after the system made reductions in staffing elsewhere. In July 2013, Denver Health announced plans to eliminate approximately 300 jobs to reduce personnel expenses by $18 million, according to another report from The Denver Post.

Mr. Veltri was one of five hospital leaders who left the hospital after Mr. Gonzalez came on board. According to The Denver Post, COO Stephanie Thomas; Richard Albert, MD, chief of medicine; Gregory Jurkovich, MD, chief of surgery; and David Brody, MD, medical director of managed care, have all resigned or retired from their positions.

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