State approves $151M EHR alignment at University of Vermont Health Network

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UVMHN received state approval for a $151.7 million project to consolidate disparate EHR systems. (Getty/DenisTangneyJr)

A state board tasked with overseeing healthcare reform in Vermont has approved at $151.7 million project requested by the University of Vermont Health Network (UVMHN) to implement a new EHR system.

Under the approved implementation plan, the hospital system plans to upgrade four of its six hospitals to Epic over the next six years. Currently, those four facilities use several different vendors for ambulatory and inpatient systems including eClinicalWorks, Meditech, General Electric and Cerner.

The Green Mountain Care Board, created by the state legislature in 2011 to oversee hospital budget and major capital expenditures, approved (PDF) the project last week. The EHR system variations, the board noted, “can cause significant disruptions for both patients and providers.”

During a prior hearing, UVMHN providers recounted instances where they had to “print the patient’s health record, put it in a manila folder, and place the folder in the patient’s stretcher to ensure its contents will be available for the next provider caring for the patient” at another facility.

RELATED: ONC releases its Trusted Exchange Framework establishing a single ‘on ramp’ for interoperability

That type of incapability between EHR systems is an issue the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT wants to solve through its Trusted Exchange Framework released last week.

“I appreciate the Board’s thoughtful review and approval of this necessary and important project,” said John Brumsted, M.D., president and CEO of the UVM Health Network and CEO of the UVM Medical Center said in a release.

System officials estimated that updating, maintaining and replacing legacy systems across the network could cost as much as $200 million over the next six years without any resolution to the ongoing interoperability issues. To offset the cost of the implementation project and maintain its credit rating, UVMHN plans to roll out $110 million in annual budget adjustments over the next six years, including staffing reductions.