Central Maine Healthcare CEO says EHR woes contributed to high physician turnover

Eighty of Central Maine Healthcare's 300 physicians have left the Lewistown-based organization this past fiscal year, which ended in June, one month after its three hospitals issued votes of no confidence in system CEO Jeff Brickman. But, Mr. Brickman thinks the staffing issues stem from something other than leadership: the health system's new EHR, the Portland Press Herald reports.

Physicians have been growing increasingly discontent with CMH and its leadership structure during at least the past year. However, while CMH's 27.1 physician percent turnover rate is higher than the national average of 18.6 percent for all hospital staffers, the health system's turnover rate is still lower than it has been the past two years.

Some of the CMH staffers who spoke with the Portland Herald Press on condition of anonymity said increased patient loads resulting from staffing shortages have made it difficult for physicians to spend quality time with their patients or transcribe their notes during their workdays — and a new EHR has only added to the burden.

CMH uses the new Cerner EHR across its three hospitals, though it is not clear when the hospital made the transition. However, according to its website, "CMH has worked to individualize the electronic patient record system to help our healthcare professionals document the care of our patients according to our particular workflow processes."

Coupled with the staffing changes and some physicians still adjusting to the new Cerner system, frustration mounted among the clinical staff.

"For some of the physicians it was just one more thing that they just didn't want to go through, the pain of learning a new electronic medical record," David Tupponce, executive vice president for the system and president of CMH, told the Portland Press Herald. "And so they said, 'You know what, I'd rather retire,' or, 'I'm going to go find somewhere else.' Honestly, that did drive some of the turmoil."

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