Hospital IT official resigns, compares organization's EHR launch to Challenger disaster

Following a report Wednesday by the New York Post that NYC Health + Hospitals official Charles Perry, M.D., resigned in the wake of an electronic health record implementation he compared to the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, a hospital spokesperson says the organization is not compromising patient safety.

Perry, who is identified as chief medical information officer for Elmhurst and Queens Hospital Centers in both the story and via his LinkedIn page, reportedly wrote in an outgoing email to colleagues that the project must be delayed. He quoted from a presidential panel report on the Challenger disaster, according to the Post, saying that "[f]or a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."

A report by the Post published Tuesday cited anonymous "insider" sources who said the $764 million Epic implementation is being rushed and will lead to patient harm. One Post source said necessary dry runs have not been completed, while another predicted the system will crash.

A spokesperson for NYC Health + Hospitals, responding to an email from FierceHealthIT, said Perry was appointed by the former executive director of the Elmhurst hospital to be associate executive director there and liaison to the Epic project in Queens. "He was never appointed as CMIO, even if he calls himself that," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that "if a patient safety issue is identified, the project will stop until it is addressed."

Karen Hinton, spokeswoman for New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, told the Post the same thing.

A spokesperson from Epic had no comment.

In February 2015, Bert Robles, who previously served as CIO for the health system, was forced to resign in the wake of allegations of improper billing connected to the project. The interim deputy CIO, the head of training for the EHR system and a consulting firm also were let go.

To learn more:
- read the New York Post articles here and here