Banner Health hits snags migrating two hospitals from Epic to Cerner EHR

New EHR has slowness issues and workflow delays that are causing longer patient wait times, a Banner spokesperson said.
By Bernie Monegain
11:58 AM
Banner Health Epic to Cerner EHR

University Medical Center, Tuscon, Arizona, campus. Credit: Google Maps

Banner Health is running into problems as it works to move two hospitals it acquired in 2015 from the University of Arizona from an Epic electronic health record installation onto a Cerner EHR. 

“On October 1, our transition to Cerner began in two academic medical centers,” said Banner Health spokesperson Jennifer Ruble. “While EMR implementations are always challenging, our specific challenges have included issues with slowness and workflow delays that have caused longer than normal patient wait times.” 

Ruble explained that Banner Health acquired the University of Arizona Health Network in March 2015, which consisted of University Medical Center Tucson and University Medical Center South, both of which were running on Epic. Since Banner Health was already a Cerner shop the plans was to consolidate the new hospitals onto Cerner.  

Banner, a 28-hospital integrated healthcare system based in Phoenix had planned to complete the migration of the two acquired UA hospitals to a Cerner platform by 2018.

When Banner Health Senior Vice President and CIO Ryan Smith talked to Healthcare IT News about the $45 million project in September 2015, he anticipated that putting all the hospitals on the same EHR would in the end both save money and enable clinicians to deliver higher-quality care.

"There's significant cost savings by consolidating these two systems down to our single system," Smith said. "Even taking into account the sizable investment that the former organization had made in that Epic environment, the structure of our relationship with Cerner is actually very cost effective for us to make this migration." 

Banner’s chief clinical officer John Hensing, MD, told the Arizona Star that the Cerner migration has thus far been a “painful period,” but added that performance degradation can happen when switching to any new application because transitioning systems is a complex undertaking. 

“We view this as a temporary situation and have increased our level of support, training and communication guided by the feedback we are receiving,” Ruble said. “As we become more proficient in this new technology and associated workflows, we know we can deliver a high level of service and all the benefits of a system-wide EMR platform.”

To that end, Banner Health has boots on the ground providing on-site support to expedite the migration to Cerner, Ruble added. 

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