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Epic Systems Corp. contract with U.S. Coast Guard expires
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Epic Systems Corp. contract with U.S. Coast Guard expires

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Epic Systems Corp.'s five-year contract to provide electronic health records software to the U.S. Coast Guard has not been extended. The Verona company's fourth set of office buildings, the Wizards Academy campus, shown under construction in this photo from last September, is near completion.

News reports circulating Monday and last Friday on websites such as Politico and health tech news organizations say the U.S. Coast Guard has scrapped a $14 million contract with Epic Systems Corp. of Verona, blaming “various irregularities,” and forcing the Coast Guard to return to paper records.

“EHR debacle at the Coast Guard,” said the headline on the Politico story, reporting that “botched implementation” prompted the organization to abandon the effort with Epic, Leidos and other companies and has “disrupted health care for 50,000 active troops and civilian members and their families.”

Epic signed a five-year contract in 2010 to set up an electronic health records system for the Coast Guard, Lt. Sarah Janaro, public affairs officer for the Coast Guard in Washington, D.C., said in an email Monday.

Over the course of the project, it was expanded and several other information technology providers were brought in, as well, she said.

“This expansion of scope increased the cost and technical complexity of the project,” a Coast Guard statement said.

In 2015, an analysis uncovered “irregularities” that created concerns “about the project’s ability to deliver a viable product in a reasonable period of time and at a reasonable cost,” the statement said. So the project was discontinued last fall.

An Epic spokesman confirmed the Coast Guard contract is no longer in effect but said it was not canceled, just not extended beyond the five-year term.

Janaro would not say if a particular provider’s software was the primary factor in the “irregularities.”

“No additional details are available at this time pending an ongoing review,” she said.

But the health care IT column HIStalk reported last October that “implementation delays were due to integration issues and twice the entire system was accidentally overwritten, causing missed dates unrelated to Epic.”

The Coast Guard is starting a new search for an electronic health records provider and meanwhile “will continue the use of paper-based records without interruption of service to members and dependents,” Janaro said.

Epic, one of the nation’s biggest electronic medical records software companies, was passed over for a huge U.S. Defense Department contract last year.

Instead of the Epic/IBM team, rivals Leidos, Cerner Corp. and its partner, Accenture, won the 10-year, $4.3 billion agreement to update health records systems for the military.

Epic did obtain a smaller contract, along with a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, for a patient scheduling system for the Department of Veterans Affairs, valued at $624 million over five years.

By comparison, the $14 million contract with the Coast Guard was relatively small.

Founded in 1979, Epic has 9,500 employees and had $2.02 billion in revenue in 2015.

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