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Report Details Dispute Over Epic Switch at Denver Health

January 13, 2016
by David Raths
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Former CIO questioned cost of switching to Epic, Denver Post reports

Disagreements over a switch of health IT platforms at Denver Health Medical Center contributed to the departure of its longtime chief information officer, Gregory Veltri, in October 2013, according to a Jan. 10 story in the Denver Post.

The Post’s story focused on the departure of several top officials and physicians, including its chiefs of medicine and surgery, under the leadership of CEO Arthur Gonzalez, who took the helm in 2012.

Denver Health, which has made the transition from a city hospital into a semi-public entity with more financial flexibility, decided to switch EHR platforms to Epic partly to share resources and research with other hospitals, the Post reported. (Epic now serves about 65 percent of hospital beds across the Front Range of Colorado, the story noted.)

But Veltri, whose tenure as CIO at Denver Health lasted 16 years, questioned the size of the hospital's investment, saying the costs could total $300 million, including a $70 million payoff to the current contractor and a doubling of the IT staff. The Post quotes him as saying he warned that the cost could bankrupt a hospital operating on thin financial margins. "My estimates weren't flattering," he said.

Gonzalez told the Post that Veltri was "held in good regard," but "he's severely mistaken." He said he could not divulge how much it cost the hospital to get out of its current computer contract, citing a confidentiality clause. The story did not say which EHR vendor the hospital had been working with. Veltri went on to become vice president and CIO at Charleston Area Medical Center Health System in West Virginia. Jeff Pelot, Denver Health’s former chief technology officer, was named CIO in June 2014.

Citing the hospital's January 2015 board minutes, the Post noted it completed a temporary building to house the Epic team and hired "the required 125 person staff." And while Gonzalez reported record cash collections in 2014, he told the board "that much of this cash-on-hand is already spoken for with projects such as Epic."