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Epic's Personnel Challenge: Keeping Up with the Large Number of New Installs

Posted Jan 31 2011 12:00am

In a recent note, I quoted Mr. HIStalk describing how Epic manages its sales process (see: Some Details about the Epic Sales Force and Sales Process ). In the same blog note that I linked to, he also cites the recent success of Epic in writing new EMR contracts (see: Monday Morning Update 1/24/11 )

Until 2009, Epic was making just 10-15 new sales a year and many of those were just for ambulatory or inpatient alone, but the percentage of enterprise sales has increased each year. In 2010, they supposedly made around 40 new sales ....

Continuing on in this same vein regarding Epic staffing and personnel issues, Mr. HIStalk responds to a query for a reader, QPFC, about some sour grapes from ex-employees on the web (see: News 1/26/11 ):

From QPFC: “Re: Epic. On , ex-employees have some very interesting things to say about Epic. Judy only gets a 58% rating.” 

Mr. HIStalk response: Those things are fun to read, but most of the posters have a company axe to grind (and 140 comments out of an always-churning several thousand employees isn’t a large sample). A common thread is that the new grads Judy hires resent the work hours, the not particularly talented middle management, the obsolete technologies used there, and the fact that they leave Epic unqualified to work anywhere else. It might be worrisome that turnover is mentioned often, not a good thing when experienced Epic resources are hard to find and they keep selling more big sites, but all Epic really need is an endless supply of fresh, naive liberal arts grads and three months to train them. Candidates with those minimal credentials aren’t hard to find in this economy.

Most companies, particularly EMR companies, would have extreme difficulty in responding to the rapid surge in the EPIC book-of-business. This is particularly true for EMR installs that can take 2-3 years or more for complex health systems. How does a company ensure a nearly endless supply of "fresh, naive, liberal arts grads" to support such projects?

Putting this all together and quoting a knowledgeable source about Epic, I am told that Judy Faulkner, the CEO and founder of the company, has hit on a workable plan to hire and train new employees. She has a stable group of veteran trainers who initially train the newly hired installers and trainers. When a new contract is signed with Hospital X, she then quickly hires a new batch of youngsters and assigns them specifically to this job. They stick with this new hospital site for months or even years. She probably hires and trains more personnel than she needs in order to accommodate to the "churn." If she ends up with too many trainers/installers on one job, she can reassign them to other hospital contracts.

Note Mr. HIStalk's comment above: Candidates with those minimal credentials aren’t hard to find in this economy. That's the only weakness in such an HR plan. It may fall apart in our [hopefully now] surging economy. Some of these potential new hires with an interest in HIT may decide that being an expert in the EPIC software and MUMPS may not be worth the multi-year investment in the long run (see: Persistence of the MUMPS Programming Language in Healthcare Applications ; Some History about MUMPS and InterSystems' Caché DBMS ). Or perhaps such a job may still look good after thinking about it. Many such people can always subsequently seek a job with a hospital helping to run their Epic EMR and clock an 8-5 workday after spending a few training years in Verona.

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