Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sutter Health to jump-start its $400M EHR installation in NorCal

San Francisco Business Times: Sutter Health to jump-start its $400M EHR installation in NorCal

By Chris Rauber
March 15, 2010

Sutter Health said Monday it will accelerate implementation of its electronic health record system in affiliated hospitals across 26-hospital system, after putting on the brakes in late 2007.

Sacramento-based Sutter estimates the project will cost $400 million over the next five years. The nonprofit system slowed the installation process in November 2007, in response to a rapidly cooling economy.

At the time, Sutter said it would aim to complete the huge project in phases by 2015, starting with six hospitals that account for roughly half of overall patient volume at the 26-hospital system. That phase began with Burlingame’s Peninsula Medical Center in early 2009.

In Monday’s announcement, Sutter said the reinvigorated inpatient EHR project “builds on Sutter’s ongoing installations across its affiliated medical groups and follows the nationally-recognized installation at Sutter-affiliated Mills-Peninsula Health Services in Burlingame last year.”

What Sutter didn’t say is that it also follows in the footsteps of arch-rival Kaiser Permanente, which recently put the final touches on a $6 billion electronic medical record installation across all of its hospitals and clinics.

“Last year we directed our resources to where the majority of our patients access care – physician offices,” Pat Fry, Sutter’s president and CEO, said in the March 15 statement. “Now, we’re ready to ramp up our hospital roll out.”

To make sure that multiple hospital can “go-live” with the EHR by 2011, officials said Sutter will launch prep work this year at five facilities: Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center of Santa Cruz, Menlo Park Surgical Hospital, Memorial Medical Center, Memorial Hospital Los Banos and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital. All five are slated to go live next year.

Earlier plans called on San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center and Alta Bates Summit Medical Center -- with campuses in Berkeley and Oakland -- to have the Epic electronic health record system installed by mid-2011, but neither CPMC nor Alta Bates was mentioned in Monday’s announcement.

Sutter says it has already installed the EHR system in most of its physician offices and clinics throughout Northern California, connecting more than 12,000 clinicians. In addition, nearly 300,000 patients use the network’s personal health record service.

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