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NYC Health + Hospital IT Official Resigns, Cites Concerns with EHR Launch

March 17, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Following an article published Wednesday in the New York Post that NYC Health + Hospital executive Charles Perry, M.D. resigned due to his concerns that the health system’s implementation of a new electronic medical records (EMR) system was launching too early, a health system spokesperson said there are no patient safety issues associated with the EMR project.

According to the New York Post article, Dr. Perry sent an email to his colleagues at NYC Health + Hospitals citing concerns about the implementation of the Epic EMR system and, the article stated, “urged colleagues at NYC Health + Hospitals, formerly the Health and Hospitals Corp., to sound the alarm and press for an external review to stop the system from going live next month.”

The health system is scheduled to go live with an Epic EMR system April 2 at the first sites of an eventual system-wide rollout. The first sites are Queens and Elmhurst Hospital Centers in Queens and the overall cost for the hospital for the six-year implementation is $764 million.

Perry, who identified himself in the email as chief medical information officer of Queens and Elmhurst Hospital Centers, compared the EMR system implementation to the disastrous space shuttle Challenger launch in 1986, the New York Post article stated. On Jan. 28, 1986, seven crew members of the Challenger space shuttle died when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after liftoff.

Ian Michaels, a spokesperson for NYC Health + Hospitals, responding to an email from Healthcare Informatics, said the organization is not compromising patient safety. Michaels confirmed that Perry sent an email to several health system colleagues citing concerns about the EMR implementation.

“The idea that we’d jeopardize patients to meet a deadline is simply wrong,” Michaels said in an email response. “If a patient safety issue is identified the project will stop until it is addressed. NYC Health + Hospitals and its Epic implementation experts have assembled a team of about 900 technicians and Epic experts who will work around-the-clock through the week surrounding the transition in both Queens and at remote data centers to ensure we shift to new system as smoothly as possible.

With regard to Perry's comparing the EMR system implementation to the space shuttle Challenger launch, according to the New York Post article, Perry, in his email to colleagues, cited a presidential panel’s report examining how the Challenger disaster occurred. Perry quoted from the report in his email which was reported by the New York Post: “For a successful technology, ­reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled." And, the article quotes Perry from his email as stating, "Please assure your wisdom is heard about the reasonableness of the April 1st deadline' to launch the medical records system."

A New York Post article published Tuesday cited anonymous “insider” sources who said the EMR implementation project is being rushed, specifically citing health system president Ramanathan Raju, M.D. as being under the gun from City Hall to meet the deadline.

According to the email cited in the New York Post article posted Wednesday, Perry identified himself as the chief medical information officer of Queens and Elmhurst Hospital Centers.

However, Michaels said, “Dr. Charles Perry was appointed by the former executive director of NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst to be associate executive director there and liaison to the Epic project in Queens. He was never appointed as CMIO, even if he calls himself that.”

Michaels also said that Perry resigned on March 4. “Our HR people in Queens found an email from Perry, but it’s not his official resignation letter, which was just a form letter,” he said via email. The New York Post referred to the email as Perry’s resignation/thank you letter.

In early 2013, the New York City-based health system announced it had signed a 15-year contract with Epic for $303 million for a new EMR system to span all of the health system’s patient care facilities. According to Michaels, the first six years of the contract consists of the implementation period, which accounts for $144 million of the $303 million. The overall cost for the hopsital for the six-year implementation of Epic is $764 million, which includes the $303 million contract with Epic in addition to costs such as licensing fees for third-party software, hardware, interfaces, implementation support and application support, Michaels said.







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