Epic Investment May Have Prompted CIO’s Departure

Posted on July 15, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

As Forbes notes, Epic Systems has a gold-plated reputation in the hospital C-suite. In fact, we’re at the point where it’s accepted wisdom that you can’t lose your job for picking Epic.

But this time, it may actually have happened.  Barry Blumenfeld, former chief information officer at Maine Medical Center in Portland, seems to  have ended up leaving in part because of the financial impact of the hospital’s $160 million Epic buy, Forbes reports.

It’s worth noting that Maine Medical Center had other financial problems in addition to the cost of the Epic implementation. It’s also important to bear in mind that the Epic install seems to have gone badly, slowing collections and thereby cutting revenue. But the fact remains that the big-ticket Epic purchase wasn’t a golden ticket for Blumenfeld.

According to Forbes, other stories of career-mangling Epic disasters are popping up as well. For example, it noted that the chief information officer of Wake Forest Baptist Health recently resigned in the middle of a troubled Epic launch.

Sheila Sanders, who was also VP of information technology, had been on board since 2009, hired to direct the facility’s IT overhaul, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. The Journal piece notes that Wake Forest, too, has seen expected revenue delayed due to problems with the Epic rollout. The hospital had spent about $13.3 milion on Epic, and now cites $8 million in Epic-related implementation expense and $26.6 million in lost margin due to volume disruptions related to go-live issues.

Of course, a CIO can lose their job if any EMR they’re implementing calamitously fails to live up to expectations, be it Epic or another platform. But these anecdotes suggest that the high expense associated with an Epic rollout — and perhaps just as importantly, high expectations — can do more to damage a CIO’s reputation than some might think.