Ethics commission to review UI Health EHR award to Epic

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A $62 million contract awarded to Epic for a new EHR and billing system at the University of Illinois Health could be rescinded, thanks to an appeal filed with the state’s procurement board by rival vendor Cerner.

The Illinois Procurement Policy Board voted 3-0 last week to forward the contract to the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission for a conflict-of-interest review. Cerner alleges the UI Health’s bidding process was unfair and improper based, in part, on a potential conflict of interest.

Specifically, Cerner charges that Impact Advisors—a firm hired by UI Health to evaluate its IT requirements and help with the procurement—stands to benefit from the award to Epic because the two companies work closely on other implementation projects.

“Something’s wrong here,” said Bill Black, a member of the Illinois Procurement Policy Board, in an transcript of last week’s hearing. “I’m not completely comfortable saying there is a conflict of interest, but there certainly may be, and perhaps a hearing before the executive ethics commission could shine more light on this matter than what we’re able to do.”

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Cerner initially filed a protest in October 2017 with the state’s chief procurement office for higher education, which denied the filing in January. However, Cerner appealed the decision to the procurement board, which voted unanimously last week to forward the contract to the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission. The commission must hold a hearing within 30 days of receiving notice.

“The Commission has not yet received a recommendation from the (Procurement Policy Board) with respect to the contract at issue and has no comment,” said Stephen Rotello, general counsel for the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission.

Cerner declined to comment on its appeal. However, Epic did provide a written statement.

“UI Health has previously used both Epic, and Cerner and they chose Epic for their system-wide EHR. We believe that organizations have a right to choose the solution they feel best meets their needs. It’s unfortunate that a case of sour grapes is preventing that from happening,” said Meghan Roh, Epic’s spokesperson.

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