John Brumsted, president and CEO of UVM Health Network
The University of Vermont Medical Center filed a certificate of need, or CON application, with the state of Vermont Jan. 3, seeking approval to create a unified electronic health record system across four hospitals in the University of Vermont Health Network.
The submission of the CON application signals the start of a regulatory review process for the project.
A unified EHR would significantly improve patient care by having all of a patient's information available to a healthcare provider regardless of location whenever it is needed, health system officials noted in their CON application.
"If a patient needs to go from their primary care provider's office to a specialist, that specialist would have instant access to the patient's full record rather than just portions that can be shared electronically today," John Brumsted, MD, president and CEO of UVM Health Network, in a statement.
"There are still times when the medical records are faxed or even hand-delivered by the patient at the appointment," he added. "In urgent situations, and especially during an emergency, having immediate access to important information is critical. A unified EHR is foundational to our ability to collaborate fully to provide the highest quality care possible."
The capital cost of the project, which is subject to CON review, is $112.4 million. It includes $3.1 million in capitalized interest. The total cost of the project over the first six years of implementation and operation is expected to be $151.6 million.
Done independently, it could cost up to $200 million for the four hospitals to upgrade their own systems, and it would lack the network connectivity, UVM officials calculated.
Today, the health system stores information on separate EHRs in the four hospitals, Brumsted noted.The systems were built by different vendors, and they are only partially connected.
By contrast, a unified EHR would include health and clinical information as well as information on registration, billing, scheduling and insurance across the network.
Once approved, the project would take more than three years to complete.