Mercy, a large integrated delivery system operating 45 hospitals, started its trek to implement the Epic electronic health records system enterprisewide in 2006. While that core project was completed long ago, Mercy is parlaying its experience to assist other facilities.

Mercy now implements Epic for other hospitals, particularly small and mid-sized facilities, with a commercialized business line. Last year, it became an Epic-accredited implementer, and beyond electronic health records systems, it’s able handle analytics, interfacing, disaster recovery, optimization, upgrades and support.

So far, Mercy has entered contracts with eight hospitals for Epic implementations and one hospital for analytics. The systems can be hosted on either a customer’s own hardware or hosted by Mercy. The three most recent facilities to get hooked up are Riverview Health in Noblesville, Ind., and Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Md., for Epic services, and McLeod Health in Florence, S.C., for analytics.

Having handled 45 of its own in-house implementations gives Mercy credibility, says Gil Hoffman, CIO. “These hospitals want to stay independent and don’t see us infringing on their territory, and they don’t see us as a takeover threat,” he adds.

The big reason these hospitals are turning to Mercy, however, is that Mercy can do the job quicker and less expensively, Hoffman says. While there is no difference in the licensing costs that Epic charges the facilities, Mercy’s labor costs and implementation timetables are lower, he contends, adding that, “There’s no specific number I can give you, but we do it cheaper than most other shops.”

Part of the reason is because Epic, after some negotiations, gave Mercy flexibility on the staffing levels it can use for implementations. Epic will suggest a certain number of certified staff required for a job, but if Mercy demonstrates it can perform the implementation with fewer staff, the client hospital and Mercy are able to achieve financial benefits, Hoffman says.

Mercy and its clients also can achieve bigger savings by using a quicker implementation timetable. Mercy has cut a standard 18-month Epic implementation period to 16 and even 14 months, “which is big dollars,” Hoffman says.

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