Temple University Health swings to operating loss, but sees gains from new clinical record system

Temple University Health System is anchored by Temple University Hospital in North Philadelphia. The health system also owns Fox Chase Cancer Center, Jeanes Hospital, and other facilities.

Temple University Health System swung to an operating loss in the year ended June 30, largely because of cost overruns related to the installation of a new electronic system for inpatient clinical records, the nonprofit provider told bondholders in a filing Tuesday.

The system’s operating loss was $5.76 million, compared to an operating gain of $4.36 million the previous year.

Temple spent $15.1 million more on staffing needs related to the installation of an Epic electronic health record system than it expected, but it was well worth it, Temple Health’s chief financial officer Robert Lux said in an interview Tuesday. It was important “to give all the physicians and nurses all the right kind of elbow-to-elbow support they needed for there to be a smooth clinical implementation,” Lux said.

The upside now for Temple is better documentation of patients’ conditions, Lux said. That can help improve reimbursement levels.

Unlike some major health systems nationally that stumbled in collecting payments when they installed Epic electronic records, Temple beat its own cash collection goals in the fiscal year, Lux said.

Temple’s overall revenue increased $1.75 billion, up 6.7 percent from $1.64 billion the year before, despite a slight decline in the number of patient discharges.