How Analysis and Support Transformed Summa Health's Relationship with Epic


Summa Health, a nonprofit integrated healthcare delivery system in Northeast Ohio, was seeking a way to improve its overall operational and clinical efficiency in a fast-changing digital health environment.

Summa was committed to embracing consumerism in healthcare and significantly upgrading its patient and provider experience through the application of technology. The organization needed a fully integrated clinical and financial operations technology platform to dramatically enhance the patient and provider experience and provide operational efficiencies that would lead to lower costs.

Summa had been accessing its medical records system, Epic, via a Community Connect model through Bon Secours Mercy, a major healthcare provider operating in seven states. It was a highly complex environment requiring information to be shared across a variety of platforms, resulting in extra work for providers and administrators as well as a subpar consumer experience. Summa wanted to move to a fully integrated medical record, eliminating information silos within the continuum of care and providing patients with a single point
of access for their care needs.

To overcome these challenges, the organization needed a thorough analysis of the potential outcomes of staying with its current setup versus moving to its own Epic implementation. Summa also needed a go-forward strategy for building out a custom implementation that supported the unique needs of its patients and providers.


Brightwork performed the initial Summa analysis to determine whether the organization should continue the Community Connect model or engage Epic directly. The Brightwork team executed a financial and impact analysis of the state of the organization and anticipated outcomes of each course of action, which they presented to Summa’s board. The result was a decision to move Summa to its own instance of Epic.

Brightwork then helped Summa design and implement its own Epic instance using Epic’s Foundation Model and industry best practices in project management, organizational change management, and large-scale systems implementation.


Brightwork started this migration project by establishing the following principles:

  1. Create a consistent, complete, patient-centered experience
  2. Prioritize the best overall patient experience over niche capabilities
  3. Empower patients in their healthcare journey
  4. Design not only for existing patients but also prospective patients


  • Staffing: Brightwork created a staffing model and hiring process based on an analysis of available and needed resources, allowing Summa to quickly make several key hires and create a self-sufficient organizational model.
  • Risk management: Brightwork created Summa’s risk-tracking project management dashboard, enabling progress oversight and identifying risks and issues and related mitigation strategies in each phase.
  • Project management: Brightwork set up a project plan, team structure, governance framework, project budget, and communications requirements and worked directly with Epic and other third parties on project implementation. Brightwork used its proprietary toolset and project management methodologies to integrate the Epic, Summa, and Brightwork teams into a single, cohesive project team.
  • Team leadership and resourcing: Brightwork provided Epic functional build team leads and highly skilled team members to augment Summa resources. The Brightwork team brought decades of Epic knowledge to accelerate project schedules and mentor Summa throughout the process.
  • Remote workforce development and support: Working with Epic and Summa, Brightwork implemented a remote workforce strategy, allowing the project to achieve its goals while working virtually and the team to maintain productivity and safety and reduce travel costs.


The dedicated Epic instance for Summa Health will go live in late October 2022. While quantifiable results will not be available for 2-3 years, the Summa team is confident this course of action will yield phenomenal results. Projected benefits include an improved patient and provider experience, streamlined operational efficiency, and greater agility in delivering quality healthcare in the digital era. Summa is expected to save tens of millions of dollars in reduced operational costs over the next 10 years, along with additional savings from implementing best practices inherent in the Epic Foundation Model. Longer term, Epic will allow Summa to integrate its payment, patient care planning, and reimbursement with multiple payers, further reducing the cost of care for Summa and its patients.

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