Meritus Health rolls out Epic EHR, with help from St. Louis-based Mercy

Meritus Health, based in Hagerstown, Maryland, has gone live with its new Epic electronic health record – implemented and hosted via a collaboration with partnership with Mercy Technology Services, the IT arm of the 45-hospital St. Louis-based Mercy.

Meritus, which has direct a software license with Epic, wanted more capabilities from the technology that might have been out of reach for a similarly-sized small health system, according to Mercy.

So with help from MTS, it opted to implement Mercy’s advanced version of the Epic system, gaining faster access to a more robust and higher-performing EHR while maintaining autonomy over the system for its own purposes.

“Adopting a new EHR can be a costly, time-consuming process for any healthcare system,” said Tom Chan, chief financial officer for Meritus Health, in a statement. “Thanks to our partnership with MTS, Meritus was able to implement one of the most sophisticated versions of Epic in use today, reducing the time to install from 18 months to just over a year and helping us experience savings along the way.”

Mercy’s model of Epic, developed over the past decade for its own use and that of MTS clients,   offers many specialty modules, mobile capabilities, clinical decision support functionality and population health management tools.

Meritus, whose CEO Joseph Ross retired abruptly this past month, had first announced its plans to implement Epic in July 2017 after a reported 18 months of planning, with an expected cost of $100 million. At the time, Ross said clinicians at the health system, whose flagship Meritus Medical Center has 243 beds, “particularly preferred Epic.”

Mercy’s 900-employee technology staff has repeatedly been voted one of Healthcare IT News’ Best Hospital IT Departments.

“We’ve been growing really fast so there’s a lot of acquisition work going on, as far as bringing other healthcare organizations into our infrastructure, converting them to some of our Epic systems,” Mercy Chief Information Officer Gil Hoffman told HITN in 2017. “That’s been a lot of work. We’re also a little bit unique from the standpoint that Mercy sells its IT services to other providers: We have commercialized our IT, and that has taken a lot of work, bringing some other health systems not only into our Epic services but our hosting services as well.”

Similarly, earlier this year Mercy consolidated its imaging platform, distilling several legacy PACS and VNA systems into a single hosted technology, and commercialized it through MTS as a secure software-as-a-service model aimed a small- and midsize hospitals.

“As we started this journey with MTS, we knew we wanted to maintain a degree of autonomy,” said Meritus Health’s chief transformation officer Carrie Adams. “This process helped us retain the ability to make decisions about the direction of our EHR so we can build and grow a system that meets the needs of our clinicians as well as our patients.”

Hoffman added: “Meritus is really a model for how a smaller health system can best implement a new EHR on their own terms. By taking advantage of MTS’ experience, a decade of Epic design and award-winning build, they’ve been able to catapult their capabilities, while managing their risk and controlling their costs.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

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