Vermont health system seeks $152M EHR upgrade

UVM Health Network plans to sink $152 million into an upgraded EHR system that will improve interoperability. (University of Vermont Medical Center)

Vermont’s largest health system is seeking state approval for a $152 million upgrade to its EHR system that will allow providers to access patient records across the network.

The state is currently reviewing a certificate of need application that would create a unified EHR system across four hospitals within the University of Vermont Health Network, according to a release by the University of Vermont Medical Center.

In addition to patient medical information, physicians will be able to access registration, billing, scheduling and insurance information, and patients will be able to easily access their own medical records, schedule appointments and pay bills.

Although each hospital has its own EHR system in place, the software does not communicate with other hospitals throughout the network, and some billing and scheduling systems haven’t been updated in 20 years. The network will build off the Epic platform originally installed at UVM Medical Center in 2010.  

“If a patient needs to go from their primary care provider’s office to a specialist, that specialist would have instant access to the patient’s full record rather than just portions that can be shared electronically today,” said John Brumsted, M.D., president and CEO at UVM Health Network and CEO at UVM Medical Center, in the release. “There are still times when the medical records are faxed or even hand-delivered by the patient at the appointment.”

A UVM Medical Center spokesperson told Internet Health Management that the hospital system has been planning the upgrade over the last 18 months, but still needs final approval from the state before embarking on a project that is expected to take more than three years to complete and include more than $112 million in infrastructure costs.

RELATED: ONC finalizes 2017 Interoperability Standards Advisory

EHR interoperability has been a health IT buzzword as of late, with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) releasing new interoperability standards, and new EHR interoperability provisions included in the 21st Century Cures Act.

The ONC has previously said it wants to allow the majority of providers and individuals to easily transfer electronic information by the end of this year, while the National Governor’s Association recently outlined five ways for states to improve data-sharing.