- Clinicians at two Tucson hospitals will be tasked with learning a new EHR technology after their healthcare organizations were acquired by Banner Health.
The decision to implement an EHR replacement technology follows more than $100 million in EHR-related expenditures by the former University of Arizona Health Network and two years of financial struggles adopting its outgoing EHR technology. What's more, the EHR technology being replaced is by Epic Systems and the replacement by Cerner Corporation.
An Arizona Daily Star report states that the redubbed Banner-University Medical Center Tucson and Banner-University Medical Center South will give up their $115-million Epic EHR technology in the name of EHR integration.
"Nearly all of Banner Health’s 28 hospitals are already on Cerner EHR and the Tucson Banner hospitals are expected to transition to that system early in 2018, officials confirmed Friday. Banner says it is still evaluating the costs of converting to Cerner," reports Stephanie Innes.
According to the same report, UA Health Network's financial struggles in fiscal year 2014 were tied to the costs of the Epic EHR implementation prior to the eventual Banner Health acquisition:
The investment in Epic was so expensive that the UA Health Network experienced unprecedented operating losses in its 2014 fiscal year, including $32 million in unbudgeted costs.
The extra costs were due primarily to a delay in getting the system live and funding additional training and support, officials said at the time. It was supposed to be up and running by Sept. 1, 2013, but wasn’t operational until Nov. 1.
In April of last year, the UA Board of Directors received a financial report indicating $6.8 million in losses as a result of physician training and time not spent seeing patients. Despite the difficulties associated with the Epic EHR implementation, the former head of the UA Board of Directors claims that the transition from Epic EHR to Cerner EHR should be as problematic as the transition from paper to Epic.
“Obviously there was pain and suffering. But the good news is that there’s enough similarity between the two,” Steve Lynn told the Arizona Daily Star. “It is much more difficult to go from non-electronic to electronic than from one electronic system to another.”
A spokesperson for Banner Health told the news outlet that the health network fully expected to take on losses with the intention of turning the two hospitals around using its own operating model.
Epic EHR implementations are serious undertakings and problems tend to arise as a result of adopting healthcare organizations not preparing properly for the task. The New York Post tied several high-profile firings at the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation to that organization's Epic EHR implementation over the past year. A similarly troubled Epic EHR implementation across the pond in Cambridge, England, is the impetus behind an investigation into system instabilities.