Trinity Health temporarily paused its Epic implementation during the COVID-19 pandemic, the not-for-profit system said on its investor call Friday.
Livonia, Mich.-based Trinity now expects to have all 92 of its hospitals plus its medical groups transitioned to the new electronic health record platform by the end of 2023, one year later than previously planned.
Despite the extended timeline, Trinity still held its single-largest Epic go-live in January when about 27,000 Michigan employees adopted the platform. Trinity's St. Peter's Health Partners in Albany, N.Y., will go live on the platform in March 2021.
Dr. Dan Roth, Trinity's chief clinical officer, said on the investor call that Trinity's Epic implementation is "one of the areas we're most excited about," because it will leverage technology and scale to improve physicians' efficiency and happiness while also lowering costs. Trinity employs 6,800 physicians and clinicians and has 27,000 affiliated physicians.
One benefit of delaying the implementation is that Trinity's labs will now go live at the same time as the rest of the system, Roth said.
"That will help us to do things more efficiently," he said.
Epic implementations are a notoriously expensive undertaking. Boston's Mass General Brigham, formerly Partners HealthCare, spent $1.2 billion on its Epic install, and its Epic implementation comprised a chunk of Mayo Clinic's $1.5 billion investment in new technology a few years ago.
Trinity hasn't said how much the project will cost, but Interim Chief Financial Officer Cindy Clemence said on Friday's call Trinity expects its annual capital spending to be roughly $1.2 billion over the next couple of years, including the Epic install. The system cut back on capital spending in fiscal 2020 because of the pandemic, Clemence said.
Like many of its peers, Trinity has struggled with lower volumes during the pandemic, and reported a razor thin 0.4% operating margin in the year ended June 30. The system drew $74.7 million in operating income in fiscal 2020 on $18.8 billion in revenue, compared with $271.8 million in operating income on $19.3 billion in revenue in fiscal 2019, a 1.4% margin.
Trinity announced in early 2019 that its Epic transition would mean relocating or outsourcing about 1,650 employees. Some will work out of consolidated billing offices in Michigan and Ohio and others will work for its application management services vendor, Leidos.