Impossible to Say “Wrong EHR”

It seems that the CIO’s are defending the choice of EPIC because it is politically impossible to say they made a wrong choice after so many resources, money and time have been expended.

The above statement is incredibly scary for me to consider. In reality, it’s the opposite of the oft quoted statement, “no one gets fired if you choose IBM.” In healthcare I’ve often heard people say a hospital CIO doesn’t get fired if he chooses Epic.

We’ve all heard about Epic’s tactics for selecting which hospitals can use their EHR. They are highly selective and say no to a lot of hospitals that they don’t think are the right fit for Epic (whatever fit that might be). I even heard one rumor on HIStalk that when an Epic install goes downhill, Epic will offer to pull out and refund all of the money or require that the hospital pay them a lot of money to have Epic send in a recovery team to try and get the Epic EHR install back on track.

When a hospital has invested hundreds of millions and even billions of dollars on a specific EHR software, things can get messy really fast. Imagine you’re a hospital CIO (which many of you that read this site are) that had just spent hundreds of millions of dollars on Epic. Would you be able to go back to the CEO or CFO and say that it was the wrong choice. That’s not an easy discussion to have and I expect very few hospital CIO’s have the gumption to have that conversation.

Although, let’s not put all of this on Epic. Certainly some of the same dynamics are exhibited by all hospital EHR purchases regardless of EHR vendor.

Besides the large contracts that are signed with EHR vendors, the other major reason hospital CIO’s can’t say that they made a mistake in their EHR selection is because of the lack of EHR data liquidity. Once you start entering your data into an EHR, getting it out is like climbing Mount Everest. Only a few people know how to do it, most aren’t successful, and its guaranteed to cost you a lot of money. If EHR vendors would free up the EHR data, it still wouldn’t be an easy decision, but it would help.