Health IT, Hospitals

NYC Health + Hospitals CEO: We’re being cautious with EHR rollout

The organization is proceeding with the new, $764 million Epic EHR project despite the warnings of Dr. Charles Perry, ex-CMIO of the first two hospitals to go live.

New York City

Friday is the go-live date at the first two NYC Health + Hospitals facilities for the public health system’s $764 million Epic Systems EHR implementation. The organization is going forward with the new electronic health record despite the contentious departure of Dr. Charles Perry, ex-CMIO of the two affected hospitals.

Perry walked away from his job as CMIO of Queens Hospital Center and Elmhurst Hospital Center — both in the New York City borough of Queens — after he said management ignored his warnings of potential safety problems.

Perry said that his bosses chose April 1 purely for financial reasons, without regard to usability or patient safety. He said he had to put up with “vehement entreaties to make the April 1st date by officials and consultants with jobs and paydays on the line,” according to a New York Post report last month.

In a new interview with Becker’s Hospital Review, published Friday, NYC Health + Hospitals’ — formerly known as New York City Health & Hospitals Corp. — CEO Dr. Ramanathan Raju defended the decision to go live now. Without naming Perry, Raju asserted that safety was top of mind.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but I think we are taking all the precautions. We have put everything in place in the right way, and we are moving in a very deliberate, cautious fashion to implement,” Raju told Becker’s.

“We’re doing everything possible to make this go smoothly, make sure everything works well, make sure there are no patient safety concerns, make sure the quality is maintained, make sure the patient experience is good. I’m committed to doing that. I will watch it and I will not rest easy until I get that done,” Raju continued.

Of course, the CEO of any hospital is going to say safety is the foremost consideration, though it may not be true. A glaring recent example is the laughable statement the CEO of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles made after his quality-plagued hospital paid a ransom to get its computers back online in February.

In Raju’s case, he didn’t shy away from addressing accusations made by an anonymous, self-styled “whistleblower.”

“I can’t prevent people from writing whatever they feel when there’s no backup or any factual information. I can’t do anything about it,” Raju said.

“As of now, with all sincerity I can tell you I will never, ever, ever put a patient at risk because of some arbitrary deadline I need to meet. As of now, I have not identified any major patient safety issue. And if I find one in the next 48 hours, of course I will fix it.”

Photo: Flickr user Kyle McCluer