Intermountain signs sweeping EHR deal

Marc ProbstMarc Probst

‘This is a landmark deal not just because of the potential size’

Intermountain Healthcare, a healthcare system known for its leadership and attention to quality, has signed a multi-year contract with Cerner to deploy Cerner’s electronic medical record and revenue cycle technology across all of Intermountain’s hospitals and clinics.
 
Intermountain is known around the world for its laser focus on care quality and its pioneering work with data analytics.
 
[See also: Intermountain, Deloitte put data to work.]
 
The IDN’s choice of an EMR vendor in a field where only two companies – Epic and Cerner – seem to be in competition for the large and complex deployments, the selection is bound to garner attention.
 
"This is a landmark deal not just because of the potential size, but because Intermountain is widely regarded as a forward thinking organization, and will likely influence future decisions down the road," writes Piper Jaffray Senior Research Analyst Sean Wieland in a brief on Sept. 27, the same day Intermountain executives announced their plans.
 
"We have very set ideas on how we think these systems should work, and we feel very passionately about it," said Intermountain CIO Marc Probst, in a video announcement. "Intermountain is committed to being innovative in the area of information systems."
 
Cerner's open architecture technology was critical to Intermountain’s decision to partner with the EHR vendor, Probst said. Among other advantages, the open architecture will allow for the addition of the new Intermountain content.
 
The nonprofit healthcare system includes 22 hospitals, a medical group with more than 185 physician clinics, and an affiliated health insurance company, SelectHealth, all operated on an in-house developed clinical system.
 
[See also: Intermountain measures total radiation.]
 
On the East Coast, Boston-based Partners HealthCare is undergoing a similar changeover, pulling out its homegrown system for one from Epic.
 
"It was a competitive bakeoff between Epic and Cerner," writes Wieland in his analysis. "Cerner prevailed," he says, "because of its capabilities in the areas of population health management, predictive analytics and commitment to open architecture, in addition to having a comparable set of workflow tools."
 
"This alliance will help Intermountain to continue its focus on providing high quality care," said Charles Sorenson, MD, president and chief executive of Intermountain, in a news release. "It will help us prepare for a future where we must focus even more on providing the best possible care for our patients at a cost that is sustainable."
 
Intermountain's selection of Cerner was the result of a comprehensive yearlong decision-making process, executives noted in making the announcement. Intermountain looked at a range of criteria, including clinical and financial functionality, innovative culture and important population health-related benchmarks such as supplier commitment to the open interchange of information.
 

Cerner Chairman and CEO Neal Patterson pointed to his longtime relationship with Intermountain.

"Several decades ago, when I was just starting out, I would go to Intermountain to listen and learn," Patterson said in a statement. "Intermountain has a globally recognized focus on systematically working to increase quality and decrease cost. Intermountain's vision around shared accountability represents the future of healthcare."

"We share a common vision to improve care for populations of people," said Brent James, MD, chief quality officer at Intermountain. "This partnership will accelerate our efforts to provide core functionality to our caregivers as we create new innovations to transform healthcare. By integrating the Cerner system with our electronic data warehouse, we will continue to drive improvements in healthcare quality."

Several key Cerner leaders and staff will relocate to Salt Lake City for the deployment to join with Intermountain's executives in driving this collaboration. They will be led by Cerner Executive Vice President Jeff Townsend.