Cerner challenges Epic's win of $62 million UI Health EHR contract

The electronic health record software deployment is now on hold as Cerner questions the bidding process and raises the possibility that a conflict of interest occurred.
By Bernie Monegain
12:00 PM
Epic EHR UI Health in Chicago

UI Health in Chicago will spend $62 million over seven years to roll out the Epic EHR. Photo via UI Health

Healthcare IT giant Cerner is challenging a contract awarded to competing EHR maker Epic Systems. Cerner is alleging the bidding process was unfair and raises the possibility of conflict of interest.

At issue is a seven-year $62 million contract UI Health signed with Epic for an EHR system to replace a variety of legacy technology. UI Health is an academic medical center associated with the University of Illinois in Chicago.

[Also: New Year's resolution: Dust off that EHR contract to make sure you're as protected as you think]

Go-live was planned for the fall of 2019, Michael Zenn, chief financial officer of UI Health, told Healthcare IT News in mid-September. He anticipated the rollout would take 21 months. Zenn said the Epic system would replace the various technologies in place today, including pieces of Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, McKesson and Midas -- some of which date back to the 1990s.

Cerner filed a protest with the state's Chief Procurement Office for Higher Education claiming the bidding process was unfair and tainted by a possible conflict of interest, according to the News-Gazette, which also reported the project is now on hold.

The News-Gazette, which obtained the details of the Cerner protest through the Freedom of Information Act, also reported Cerner said it was denied a chance to demonstrate its product and Epic was the only bidder to provide a demonstration.

In assessing which vendor would suit UI Health best, a 17-member committee helped develop a process and set technology criteria, Zenn said in September. The team also oversaw development of the RFP – request for proposal – and an evaluation of the responses.

UI also considered technology demonstrations from several vendors.

“For Epic, we had 460 participants in our demo. And we received back 745 evaluations,” Zenn said. “We had a large number of people looking into the process.”

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