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UMass Memorial Health Care plans big patient record upgrade

UMass Memorial Health Care will spend $700 million over the next decade to upgrade its patient records and information technology systems, its chief executive, Dr. Eric W. Dickson, said Monday.

Central Massachusetts’ largest health network has agreed to buy clinical and billing software programs from Epic Systems Corp. of Verona, Wis., the country’s biggest vendor of electronic health record systems, Dickson told the Globe.

Worcester-based UMass Memorial will implement Epic’s software at its four hospitals on nine campuses. At least 1,100 physicians will use the new systems at their practices.

The $700 million cost of buying and implementing the software represents the largest capital investment ever for
UMass Memorial. “We are going all in,” Dickson said.


Epic’s systems have been criticized for their high cost and reliance on proprietary technology, but proponents say the systems allow clinicians to better track and share patient information, ultimately improving care.

Dickson acknowledged that Epic’s systems will cost 10 to 20 percent more than other products on the market, but said the software will simplify work and save time for doctors and nurses who now use many different computer programs. More than 500 employees tested and scored different programs before picking Epic.

“Despite the extra cost,” Dickson said, “this is what our people wanted.”

Epic’s other recent customers in Massachusetts include Partners HealthCare, which is spending $1.2 billion to roll out the software. Partners’ network includes Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which launched the system at the end of May, and Massachusetts General Hospital, which will adopt the system next year.

Lahey Health of Burlington is spending nearly $200 million on similar Epic software.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at priyanka.mccluskey
. Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.