$100 Million Epic Install Dampens Lifespan Health System's Credit

Bob Herman | Modern Healthcare | June 6, 2014

A multimillion-dollar electronic health-record system installation is eroding the cash flow, and bond rating, of Rhode Island's largest health system. Moody's Investors Service downgraded the rating of Lifespan, Providence, R.I., to Baa2—only two notches away from junk-level status. The ratings agency also gave the system, which operates four acute-care hospitals and one children's hospital, a negative outlook.

At the heart of the downgrade is Lifespan's new health IT system. In March 2013, Lifespan chose to implement an Epic platform, a system spokeswoman said. Lifespan expects to go live with Epic's EHR by the spring of 2015. Moody's analysts noted the investment will cost $35 million this year and $100 million total over the next several years.

This has slammed Lifespan's operating performance, Moody's analysts wrote. Lifespan is projecting a 2.8% operating cash flow margin for fiscal 2014, which is far below the Baa2 median of 8.8%. The operating margin is predicted to hover around -1.7%. And it's not likely to get better soon—executives told Moody's they don't expect to post improved results until 2016...