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CT Hospital Patients Frustrated After Cerner EHR Implementation

Danbury Hospital patients expressed frustration with care delivery soon after a Cerner EHR implementation go-live.

A Cerner EHR implementation has been met with complaints at a CT hospital.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Patients at Danbury Hospital have raised several complaints about scheduling problems, delays in care delivery, and difficulties obtaining medical services two weeks after Western Connecticut Health Network (WCHN) completed a Cerner EHR implementation.

Some Danbury Hospital patients told NewsTimes the health system’s recent EHR implementation has interfered with their ability to receive blood transfusions and reschedule appointments, among other clinical and administrative tasks.

Anne Marie Seavy-Cioffi told reporters her mother’s blood transfusion was delayed by four hours due to an EHR system glitch. Because of the delay, clinicians were only able to transfuse one pint of blood. Seavy-Cioffi was told to bring her mother back to complete the transfusion in a couple of days.

“If this was your mother, you would be as outraged as I am,” wrote Seavy-Cioffi on Danbury Hospital’s Facebook page. “Shouldn't I be?”

Carole Conaway spent an hour and a half on hold one afternoon while trying to schedule appointments with her primary care doctor and the specialist treating her for kidney disease.

"It just rankled me,” said Conaway. “I just hung up. I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’”

“I understand with new electronics it takes awhile to get it straightened out, but an hour and a half trying to make two appointments, that’s ridiculous,” she continued.

Similar complaints have been common among Danbury Hospital patients since WCHN transitioned to a Cerner EHR on March 3 after more than 2 years of preparation. WCHN made the decision to implement Cerner’s full suite of EHR solutions in September 2015.  

“We are committed to ensuring a higher level of care and providing cutting edge technology to help improve the health of the communities we serve, one person at a time,” said WCHN CIO Kathy DeMatteo in a 2015 press release. “This technology provides the platform that will enable providers to engage with individuals beyond the four walls of the hospital to help improve outcomes and transform health care delivery.”

WCHN implemented the system in an attempt to streamline care coordination between its three hospitals by enabling all facilities to operate on the same Cerner EHR.

Health system officials attributed scheduling problems and delays in care to the growing pains that inevitably accompany system-wide changes.

“Patients are receiving the same great clinical care that they have always received,” WCHN officials said Tuesday in a statement. “As with any large scale technology transition, the true test comes when staff begin using the new system. While our providers adjust to this new technology, patients may notice longer wait or appointment times or increased presence of support staff.”

Conaway said her experiences with Danbury Hospital prior to the implementation have been consistently positive.

“I feel like family with them,” she said.

Danbury Hospital is not the only medical facility part of WCHN to run up against problems. One Danbury resident — Danee Pross — has been trying to schedule an appointment with the Southbury doctor’s office for about two weeks.

“It’s kind of common sense that if they call you to reschedule, they need to answer their phone,” Pross said.

Pross has attempted to schedule appointments with WCHN offices in Danbury and Ridgefield as well, but was unsuccessful.

“What do you do from that point on?” she said. “Switch different doctors?”

Scheduling problems and delays in care delivery are very common in the months after an EHR implementation.

Keeping patients informed about any coming upgrades or changes that may impact or delay clinical and administrative operations can help to reduce frustrations in the early days after implementation.

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