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About 9,000 employees frequent Epic Systems' sprawling headquarters in Verona.

Photo by SAIYNA BASHIR

Epic Systems, the Verona-based health care software giant, hit some big milestones this month: Its full-scale health care software went live for the first time in Canada, as well as for the first time in Mayo Clinic facilities in Wisconsin.

Mackenzie Health, an Ontario-based health care provider that serves over 500,000 patients, announced last week that it had gone live with the Epic electronic medical records system. The company noted in a statement that it was the “first full-suite Epic EMR to be installed in a Canadian hospital.”

Soon after, Mayo Clinic officials announced that Epic went live in its network in Wisconsin, as well as in parts of Minnesota and Iowa. The launch is the first phase of Epic’s massive installation project for the Mayo Clinic system, one of the most highly regarded health networks in the world. Analysts have previously described Mayo Clinic as “one of the crown jewels” of the EMR marketplace.

“It has been an exciting week, and we look forward to their continued success for decades to come,” said Meghan Roh, Epic's spokesperson, referring to the new clients.

Epic CEO Judy Faulkner called the Mackenzie install a “milestone” in a written statement.

“Mackenzie Health can now expand their ability to provide patient-centered and community-based medicine for York Region and beyond,” she wrote.

Other Canadian facilities use parts of Epic’s family of software. The Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario uses Epic for its patient portal, for example. But MacKenzie represents the first time a Canadian health care provider has installed the full gamut of Epic tools, covering everything from lab work to cardiology to scheduling.

According to the market research firm KLAS, Epic trailed only one other vendor, Intersystems, in landing new contracts over the past year at the global level, with wins in Finland, the Netherlands and Canada.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Mayo Clinic hospital in La Crosse said that the rest of the Mayo Clinic system is watching the launch at his facility closely. The go-live dates for Epic’s software at other facilities are rapidly approaching.

“We’re still very much in the throes of the transition. These big transitions to new systems are an incredible amount of hard work,” said Tim Johnson.

There are now 8,400 Mayo Clinic employees in Wisconsin using Epic, a fraction of the tens of thousands still left to be trained around the country. According to Johnson, it’s crunch time.

“A fair amount of training happens in advance of go-live, but no matter how much training you do, the real training happens when you have to use it every single day,” he said.

Mayo Clinic awarded Epic the contract to build the company’s integrated medical records system in 2015, to replace a patchwork EMR setup that featured software by GE and Cerner.

The installations comes in the wake of a positive report on Epic’s managerial software — applications dealing with scheduling and other back-end aspects of operating a hospital — from the industry research firm KLAS. It also comes after the company has been passed over for a high-profile contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Erik Lorenzsonn is the Capital Times' tech and culture reporter. He joined the team in 2016, after having served as an online editor for Wisconsin Public Radio and having written for publications like The Progressive Magazine and The Poughkeepsie Journal.