Canadian health minister launches 2nd probe into Cerner EHR dispute at Island Health

British Columbia, Canada, Minister of Health Adrian Dix ordered a second independent review of a controversial Cerner EHR implementation at British Columbia-based Vancouver Island Health Authority, the Vancouver Sun reports.

Here are five things to know about the dispute.

1. In 2013, Island Health signed a 10-year, $50 million deal with Cerner to implement an EHR, called IHealth, across the health system. The IHealth system went live March 2016 at Nanaimo (British Columbia) Regional Hospital. Shortly thereafter, physicians reverted to using pen and paper to complete orders, claiming Cerner's EHR system lost, buried or changed orders for drugs and diagnostic tests.

2. In summer 2016, Island Health offered select on-call physicians $260 per day and select emergency room physicians up to $780 per day to continue using the EHR system. However, some Island Health emergency and intensive care departments still continued using paper records due to concerns about patient safety.

"We have expressed strongly for the past 18 months that the IHealth system compromises patient safety and quality of care and must be fixed or suspended," Dr. David Forrest, president of the Nanaimo Medical Staff Association, told the Vancouver Sun.

3. Doug Cochrane, MD, patient safety and quality officer for the Province of British Columbia, completed the first independent review of IHealth last year, according to the Vancouver Sun. After identifying the potential for patient safety errors, Dr. Cochrane recommended Island Health delay EHR implementation at other facilities until the system was fully functional.

4. Island Health officials delayed the EHR system's roll out to additional facilities, with the completion date extended from 2017 to 2010. However, as of July, it had already spent $72 million of the $100 million project budget. "We've spent a significant amount of money and we're just in Nanaimo," Mr. Dix said, according to the Vancouver Sun. "That's one question I want to see answered: Where do we stand and how much will it cost to achieve what we need to achieve here?"

5. Mr. Dix hired professional-services firm Ernst & Young to conduct a second independent review to assess what steps Island Health officials have taken since the first review and whether the EHR system will reach its intended benefits. "There's been significant concerns about this system since 2016," Mr. Dix told the Vancouver Sun. "We need to determine where we stand, what changes need to be made and have a clear understanding of what the costs are to completion of IHealth on Vancouver Island."

More articles on EHRs:
61% of healthcare officials indicate terrible, poor ROI on EHRs, survey finds
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Mayo Clinic adds symptoms assessment tool to Epic patient portal

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