Vermont Business Magazine The University of Vermont Medical Center filed a certificate of need (CON) application with the state of Vermont today to create a unified electronic health record (EHR) across four hospitals in the University of Vermont Health Network: Central Vermont Medical Center (Berlin), Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (Plattsburgh, NY), Elizabethtown (NY) Community Hospital and UVM Medical Center (Burlington). According to a statement released by UVMHN, a unified EHR will significantly improve patient care by having all of a patient’s information available to a health care provider regardless of location whenever it is needed.
The capital cost associated with the project subject to CON review is $112.4 million, which includes $3.1 million in capitalized interest. The total cost of the project over the first six years of implementation and operation is $151.6 million. Done independently, it could cost up to $200 million for the four hospitals to upgrade their own systems and would lack the network connectivity. Additional benefits include greater ease for patients to pay bills, schedule appointments and more easily view their own health information on line. Non-network providers and hospitals will also have access to more complete information on their patients.
Today, information is stored on separate systems in the different hospitals. Those systems, made by different vendors, are only partially connected and as a result only limited patient information can be shared by providers at different hospitals in a timely manner. A unified EHR would include health and clinical information as well as information on registration, billing, scheduling and insurance across the network. The project also includes current health care information security system technology, which is continuously reviewed and upgraded as appropriate.
The project is expected to take 40 months to complete, and will replace a variety of medical information, billing, and scheduling systems used by the UVM Medical Center, Central Vermont Medical Center, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital and Elizabethtown Community Hospital, all part of the UVM Health Network. Some of these systems are 20 years old and in need of immediate replacement.
“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 chief executive officer, UVM Health Network and chief executive officer, UVM Medical Center. “There are still times when the medical records are faxed or even hand-delivered by the patient at the appointment. In urgent situations, and especially during an emergency, having immediate access to important information is critical. A unified EHR is foundational to our ability to collaborate fully to provide the highest quality care possible.”
The UVM Medical Center began implementing an EHR in 2008, using a system made by Epic, one of the leading technology companies in the field. The installation focused on clinical information, and was completed in 2010 on schedule and below the approved budget. Other functions, such as scheduling and billing, continued to rely on software from different vendors, a situation that still exists today. Connecting these systems through computer interfaces is labor-intensive, expensive and unsustainable. Today, technology exists to bring UVM Health Network hospitals up to industry standards and use the Epic Connect platform to improve patient care and quality throughout the network.
“This project will significantly improve the ability of our physicians, nurses and other caregivers to provide high-quality care, especially as we move into value-based care,” said Adam Buckley, M.D., chief information officer, UVM Health Network. “It will allow our providers to have immediate access to up-to-date information about a patient anywhere in the network, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of care.”
A number of safeguards are built into the project to help ensure its successful completion, such as the use of a nationally-recognized expert with experience in overseeing projects of this magnitude, a phased implementation that allows regular assessment on progress, and regular reports to the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB).
The submission of this CON application signals the start of a regulatory review process for the project conducted by the GMCB over the course of many months. The CON application and additional updated material and hearing schedule will be available to the public at http://gmcboard.vermont.gov/.
About the University of Vermont Health Network
The University of Vermont Health Network is a five-hospital system serving the residents of Vermont and northern New York. The partners are:
- The University of Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Alice Hyde Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital
- The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital
Source: University of Vermont Medical Center 1.3.2017