Aspen Valley Hospital lines up patient records with Epic Systems
The Aspen Times
Aspen Valley Hospital is working with UCHealth in Denver to overhaul its medical-records software, a move that means restructuring of personnel in its IT department.
Hospital CEO Dan Bonk, however, said in an interview Thursday that the Aspen hospital isn’t in any discussions with UCHealth over an alliance or merger.
“But to be honest, it may evolve into something else,” Bonk said. “They have a new CEO there (Elizabeth B. Concordia, who took the post in May 2014) and she’s very open to doing different things.”
Bonk said the hospital is aiming to have the new software, made by the privately held Wisconsin-based Epic Systems Corp., fully operational by October or November 2016. That also is the expected time frame for the rollout of the hospital’s new emergency department, which is part of the facility’s third phase of expansion.
Epic is a giant in the medical-records software industry, reporting $1.8 billion in revenue in 2014. The company typically makes software for mid- and large-size medical facilities, according to its website.
On its own, the 25-bedroom Aspen Valley Hospital would be too small to attract Epic’s interest, Bonk said, explaining why UCHealth, which uses the software, is involved.
“What we’re going to do with them, you could call it piggybacking,” Bonk said. “They’re going to work with us to install Epic here with their license.”
The new software will translate into changes at the hospital’s IT department, whose employees were notified this week that their jobs will change. Epic’s software is highly technical and requires a skill set some Aspen Valley Hospital employees might not have, Bonk said. The new software will replace the current Meditech system the hospital has used for about 10 years.
“We’re eliminating jobs, but we’re creating jobs,” Bonk said.
He said no hospital employees are being laid off, and they will have opportunities to take other positions at the facility.
“This may end up being a wash,” Bonk said. “There are a number of people who are qualified for these (new positions that Epic will create).”
But some employees in the 12-member IT department would likely take pay cuts, Bonk said.
“The salary range may be lower, but it’s certainly not entry level,” he said.
He added, “Never in my wildest dreams would I call this a layoff. People will have options.”
When the new Epic software is operational, hospital patients will have a significantly easier time providing their medical records to other health care facilities, Bonk said. Epic’s website says it exchanged the medical records of 15.3 million patients between both Epic and non-Epic medical facilities in June.
“Our job is to improve what we do for our patients, to make records accessible for patients when they travel,” Bonk said. “Epic is going to be about access; it will be just huge how everyone notices an improvement.”
Bonk couldn’t immediately say how much the new software will cost. When he was president of Summit Hospital, one of 15 hospitals and more than 100 clinics in the Aurora Health Care network in Wisconsin, the Epic system took three years and $200 million to complete.
“Obviously, we’ll be nowhere near that here,” Bonk said.
The Aspen hospital already has alliances with the Mayo Clinic Care Network, which consults the facility’s staff and physicians on patient care.
Swedish Medical Center in Denver has an alliance with Aspen Valley Hospital through which Swedish neurologists can examine a possible stroke victim online.