An Epic expansion

2010-08-21T13:35:00Z An Epic expansionBy JUDY NEWMAN | jdnewman@madison.com | 608-252-6156 madison.com

At Epic Systems Corp.’s Verona campus, the four new buildings that comprise Campus 2 are open and occupied.

Workers are finishing interior design touches in Isis and Heaven, the latest of the buildings, and Epic’s landscape crew is working to fill the center area with plants.

The goal is to have it all ready in less than a month, when the electronic health records company expects thousands of people from its client health care providers to come for the annual users’ group meeting, Sept. 20-23.

All this, as Epic continues to add staff by the hundreds and to post ever-increasing revenues.

And the 31-year-old company has just completed a mammoth project: installation of an electronic records system for Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care plans in the U.S.

Epic still earns stellar reviews, for the most part, from its 200 customers.

“Epic is considered the vendor that won’t let you fail. You know they’re going to make sure that this is a successful product,” said Kent Gale, founder and board chairman of KLAS, an Orem, Utah, company that monitors vendor performance.

Unique spaces to work

Each Epic building has a name and a theme.

Heaven has sky-blue walls and crystal stars hanging within a milky-white, winding staircase.

Isis, with a Dungeons and Dragons theme, features a drawbridge over a watery moat that surrounds the building.

A huge rattlesnake, sculpted from concrete, greets visitors outside the barn doors that open to Juno, whose Wild West motif includes an old horse-drawn wagon (without the horses) as well as hitching posts and Native American headdresses.

Kohoutek has an Asian design with a golden dragon perched on the red-roofed building entrance.

In all, Epic’s campus now encompasses:

• Nine office buildings with individual offices for 3,600 employees — five buildings in Campus 1, now known as Prairie Campus, and four buildings in Campus 2, now called Central Park Campus. They’re all connected by overhead and underground walkways.

• A cafeteria building.

• A learning center with an auditorium seating more than 5,000.

• A four-story, underground parking ramp with 2,100 stalls and a 1,500-space parking ramp.

• One of the largest “gravel gardens” in the U.S.

• A tin-roofed tree house retreat.

Epic won’t say how much it has spent developing its 500-acre Verona property. But, according to building permits issued by the city of Verona, construction for the two sets of office buildings, the learning center and parking structures totals $525 million.

“Who could have ever thought this when we started working on this in 2000 and 2001? Who could imagine in the time period we’re talking about that it would get to this size?” said Stephen Dickmann, Epic’s chief administrative officer.

Learning center also expanding

But wait — there’s more to come. Crews from contractor J.P. Cullen & Sons, Janesville, are building a 180,000-square-foot addition to the horseshoe-shaped learning center. It will be completed on time for the users’ group meeting.

Also:

• A second cafeteria will be built between the learning center and Central Park Campus, to be called Lyra. Construction is set to start later this year.

• An outdoor amphitheater is under construction, across from Andromeda, the main entrance and first of the office buildings. Its stage will face limestone seats with room for 225 people and could be used for meetings, speakers and even employee performing groups, Dickmann said.

“It should be a very pleasant venue for ... who knows what?” he said.

Will there be a Campus 3? “We’re thinking about it,” Dickmann said. “At some point, another office campus is in our future.”

Workforce, revenues building

Epic has 3,950 employees, up from 3,400 a year ago. For comparison, the city of Verona has a population of about 11,600.

About 300 Epic employees still occupy the company’s old headquarters on Tokay Boulevard, just north of the Westgate Mall in Madison, and 35 work at a branch in the Netherlands, to service European contracts.

With complicated installations of its software, program updates and developments, and long-term contracts with its clients, Epic has enjoyed a steady income stream that has defied the nation’s economic troubles. Revenues for 2009 were $650 million, up from $600 million the year before.

”Much faster than anybody else”

One big reason for that might be the contract Epic had to create an electronic records system for Kaiser Permanente, with 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. The project, KP HealthConnect, was completed in March, creating electronic records systems in 36 hospitals and more than 400 medical offices. Kaiser, of Oakland, Calif., has not said how much the project cost but, in its 2009 annual report, referred to the system as a “multibillion-dollar strategic investment” that produced “the largest civilian deployment of electronic health records in the world.”

A recent KLAS study showed Epic to be the most successful company in getting all staff to use its system once in place. “Epic is much faster than anybody else,” Gale said.

And while Epic’s products for oncology and radiology rate lower than some of its other software programs, overall, the company’s scores this year have inched up from last year.

“They continue to get high praise,” Gale said. “And we’ve asked lots and lots of their customers.”

 

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