Health system to replace EHR with Austrian monks

A major academic health system will soon announce that it will replace its EHR system with a team of Austrian monks. Axial had a chance to sit down with the CIO for an exclusive interview.


Axial: Health systems have been accused of not being innovative. This is certainly a bold move. What prompted it?

CIO: We were facing a $150 million investment decision for a new EHR system. After the sticker shock subsided, we asked ourselves "What else could we do with that amount of money?" We really tried to think outside the box. This particular idea hit us while a group of us were at a pub near the hospital that serves a lot of Trappist ales. 


Axial: What will these monks do?

CIO: It's a five year contract. Initially, the monks will be organized into two teams. One team will transcribe all of our existing health records by hand. The other team will capture all new clinical information - also by hand. This group of monks has incredibly high standards for penmanship. Their cursive looks like something you could frame. It's just awesome.



Axial: Did you work out the ROI of having health records written by hand vs. managed in a modern EHR?

CIO: That was the best part. On an apples-to-apples basis, it would cost us about $150 per encounter to go with a leading EHR system vs. $50 per encounter to have monks write out each record by hand. It's truly a win-win. We save $100M and the monks get $50M to put back into their abbey's mission.


Axial: Tell us about these monks.

CIO: Sure. They come from a Cistercian monestary in the village of Heiligengruez in the southern part of the Vienna woods. We were impressed with them because they had great references and have been around a long time. I think they got started about 1,000 years ago. They're certainly not a flash in the pan.


Axial: How did you decide on this particular group of monks?

CIO: We ran a formal RFP. These guys had the most comperehensive solution. They offer multiple languages and offer 24x7 support. The kicker was that the Heiligengruez monks do a superb Gregorian chant. We arranged for them to chant in our ER waiting room, which we think will have a calming effect. Along the same lines, we arranged for them to chant our financial results at board meetings.  


Axial: Thanks for sitting down with us. Best of luck and happy April 1st.

CIO: My pleasure.