Mercy inks milestone EHR deal

'Mercy Technology Services put in 600 optimizations last year alone.'
By Erin McCann
10:34 AM
CaroMont Health's Gaston Memorial Hospital
The 33-hospital Mercy health system in St. Louis has inked its first deal to market its customized Epic electronic health record system. The Gastonia, N.C.-based CaroMont Health signed the contract with Mercy in efforts to consolidate its myriad platforms, officials announced Thursday. 
"We have used multiple EHRs, and we wanted to consolidate to improve operations and patient experience," said Mike Johnson, chief information officer at CaroMont, in a July 3 statement announcing the deal. "This is a complex, large-scale implementation, and it will be important that our efforts be successful. Our goal is to keep project costs in check and minimize risk."
Mercy, which has locations in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma, back in 2004 opted to begin implementing the Epic platform enterprise-wide. It's now live across Mercy's 33 hospitals and hundreds of clinics. But the platform is highly customized with myriad enhancements added by Mercy staff, officials point out. 
"What's unique about Mercy's system is the years we have spent optimizing it for performance in the real world," said Gil Hoffman, CIO of Mercy Technology Services, the system's IT arm, in a March 2014 news release announcing Mercy's accreditation success with the Epic Connect program. "Mercy Technology Services put in 600 optimizations last year alone. Clients benefit from our advanced clinical workflows, unique order sets, hundreds of custom developed reports, and the real standout -- the 20-plus built-in care pathways to support evidence-based clinical decisions."
As part of the service, CaroMont will gain Mercy's customized Epic system. Unlike Epic's out-of-the-box base model, Mercy’s system contains years of enhancements driven by the physicians and nurses who use it. 
Added Hoffman, "It's a substantial head start for hospitals wanting optimum productivity, advanced clinical workflows and evidence-based care already built in the system."
Mercy recently earned accreditation status from Epic in its Epic Connect program, making it the first in the country to receive this designation, officials note. Through the program, Mercy provides Epic implementation, management and hosting services in a software-as-a-service model, along with consulting for existing Epic clients who could benefit from Mercy's best practices. Mercy also offers services to tap into Epic data, integrating it with claims and external information for population health, accountable care organization reporting and business intelligence.