Advocate Health Care switches to Epic EHR ahead of planned merger with Aurora

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Advocate Health Care is switching to Epic's EHR to align with Aurora Health Care. (iStockPhoto)

Advocate Health Care has selected Epic to replace its EHR platform, aligning itself with Aurora Health Care as the two systems finalize a planned merger.

Advocate and Aurora announced plans to join the two systems in December. If the merger passes regulatory scrutiny, it would create a 27-hospital system with annual revenue of $11 billion, making it one of the largest nonprofit systems in the country.

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There was some speculation about how the two systems would integrate their EHRs. Illinois-based Advocate Health Care was operating with a combination of Cerner and Allscripts, while Aurora completed its switch to Epic in 2013. The move is a blow to Allscripts, which counted Advocate among its largest clients.

"After months of evaluation, we have determined that a single platform is ideal to further advance our safety, quality and consumer-first strategies," Advocate spokesperson Adam Mesirow said in an emailed statement. "While this decision was not directly influenced by the planned merger, it will allow us to align with Aurora, who is also on the Epic platform, greatly benefiting the patients we serve."

Advocate officials said transitioning to a single systemwide EHR will "improve care coordination and operational efficiency." The replacement is expected to take three years. Mesirow declined to provide a cost estimate.

“This transition will allow for better interoperability throughout our entire geographic region, benefiting patients through a seamless, integrated approach,” said Bobbie Byrne, M.D., senior vice president of health informatics and technology and chief information officer of Advocate Health Care. “We are confident this single-platform EHR will be a nimble, long-term solution that can be continually adapted and developed as technology advances to keep us on the leading edge.”

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It's clear Aurora’s established system played a role in the decision, although it got no more than a brief mention in Advocate’s announcement. Instead, the Illinois system highlighted the benefits of a more convenient platform that offers access to one medical and billing record across the existing system.

“A single platform allows us to expand our digital efforts as we continue to deliver on our promise to transform care delivery and meet consumers’ desire to literally access and improve their health from the palm of their hand,” said Kelly Jo Golson, senior vice president and chief marketing and digital officer.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include an additional statement from Advocate Health Care.