Island Health offers physicians $260 per day for sticking with their hospital's Cerner EHR

On March 19, three Vancouver Island Health Authority facilities went live on Cerner's EHR. Recognizing the numerous complaints made by physicians at one of the facilities, Island Health began offering select physicians extra money to keep using Cerner's system, according to the Times Colonist.

In 2013, Island Health in British Columbia, Canada signed a 10-year, $50 million deal with Cerner to implement the EHR, called IHealth, across the system, which includes Nanaimo (British Columbia) Regional Hospital, Nanaimo, British Columbia-based Dufferin Place and Parksville, British Columbia-based Oceanside Health Centre.

But a mere nine weeks later, physicians at Nanaimo Regional Hospital reverted to using pen and paper to complete orders, claiming Cerner's EHR system randomly lost, buried or changed orders for drugs and diagnostic tests. Although physicians signed a petition asking Island Health to suspend further implementation, Island officials decided to move forward with the process.

Due to continued frustration amongst physicians, Island Health offered Nanaimo Regional Hospital's medical staff compensation from July 1 to Sept. 5 for "the extra time required to use the computerized physician order entry [system] in conjunction with electronic clinical documentation," according to a memo sent out by Executive Vice President and CMO Jeremy Etherington, MD.

According to the memo, on-call physicians were offered $260 per day. Emergency room physicians were offered up to $780 per day. The Times Colonist did not confirm whether that amount was for each physician or for a collective group of physicians. The report did not clarify how many physicians accepted the offer.

Dr. David Forrest, a member of Nanaimo's 250-physician Medical Staff Association, said Island Health's board originally intended the offer to be for physicians' unpaid overtime. "The rationale for the stipend was noble," Dr. Forrest said. "Unfortunately it was linked to the use of IHealth, but that's a past issue and we're trying to move forward."

In late July, British Columbia Minister of Health Terry Lake ordered a review of the IHealth system.

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