Denver Health CIO, COO quit, blame pricey Epic EHR installation, report says

CEO also on the hot seat for taking pay raise while trimming staff, Denver Post reports.
By Bernie Monegain
11:04 AM

The chief information officer and chief operating officer of Denver Health Medical Center, along with some of its top physicians, left their positions, since CEO Arthur Gonzalez arrived in 2012, ostensibly over disagreements with him over the medical center’s $170 million investment in a new Epic EHR system, The Denver Post reported on January 10..

The newspaper reports that at least five hospital leaders have departed since Gonzalez took the helm.

It quotes former Denver Health CIO Gregory Veltri as saying he warned that the cost of the Epic implementation – an estimated $300 million, including $70 million just to get out of its existing contract, and a doubling of IT staff – could bankrupt a hospital operating with thin margins.

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[Also: HITECH drives docs to EHRs, but issues remain]

"My estimates weren't flattering," said Veltri.

According to the Post, CEO Arthur Gonzalez said Veltri was "held in good regard," but "he's severely mistaken." He said the Epic EHR was under budget at $170 million and is expected to go live in April.

Others leaving Denver Health, according to the Post, are Patricia Gabow, longtime hospital leader, Richard Albert, chief of medicine, retired from the hospital. COO Stephanie Thomas also retired. Gregory Jurkovich, chief of surgery, and Dr. David Brody, head of managed care, both resigned.

EHR implementations have been tough going for some hospitals, especially those operating on slim margins, as so many are.

[Also: Go-live gone wrong]

Maine Medical Center in Maine ran into trouble with its $160 million Epic EHR implementation back in
the summer of 2013, resulting in the firing of its CIO. In the same year, 885-bed Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., reported some financial fallout. Its CIO, planned to resign, according to a May 17 article in the Winston-Salem Journal.

"The health system has struggled with the implementation of Epic, a new electronic medical records system," the Journal reported then. "However, health system officials said Sanders' resignation was not related to Epic and that Sanders is relocating to Florida to spend more time with family."

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