After 10 years of developing clinical information systems in-house, Kaiser Permanente said Tuesday that it is turning to Epic Systems Corp. of Madison, Wis., to create electronic medical records for its 8.4 million enrollees across seven regions.
Kaiser Permanente hopes to have the system deployed to all of its nearly 11,400 physicians within three years. Patients also will be able to access their personal medical records via a secure Internet connection, Kaiser officials say.
The Oakland, Calif.-based integrated delivery system made the announcement at a press conference in Washington that featured patient safety advocates in government and industry.
"This new initiative is a wonderful example of how the power of information technology can be harnessed to make the kind of achievable improvements in healthcare quality that the American people want and deserve," says Karen Clancy, M.D., acting director of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
Kaiser Permanente will spend up to $2 billion on the project, according to Andrew Wiesenthal, M.D., associate executive director of the Permanente Federation, the medical group division of the Kaiser healthcare network.
Wiesenthal led the development of a clinical information system at the Colorado Permanente Medical Group, a system that Kaiser Permanente officials decided in 2000 to base the entire national EMR on. That project was to take six to seven years.
But, according to Wiesenthal, senior executives recently concluded that they could get the same functionality for the same amount of money in about half the time by turning to the commercial market (Modern Physician, February 2003).