Vancouver's Cerner transition hampered by $130M cost spike

The Vancouver-area EHR overhaul, which seeks to transition the medical records of nearly 1 million Canadians to Cerner, is facing even more delays driven by even more unexpected cost increases, according to the Vancouver Sun.

The Clinical Systems Transformation Project originally tapped IBM and allotted $842 million to the effort. However, a first round of cost overruns and technical concerns from physicians and nurses in 2015 led the province to fire the tech giant. Now, the government has opted for Cerner. 

After a nearly 18-month delay brought on by the project's new direction, its cost has skyrocketed approximately $130 million to $972 million. 

"I would describe that decision as catastrophic," Health Minister Adrian Dix said of the IBM firing, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Before the government decided to switch to Cerner, the transition to IBM was supposed to be completed between 2017and 2018. The first phase of the project was supposed to go live at Vancouver-based Lions Gate Hospital in spring 2017, but that was pushed back to spring 2018. What's more, the project's automated pharmacy production center didn't go live until late 2016 at Vancouver General Hospital, but much of that effort remains delayed.

"I think at its core, these IT projects are too big, and not gated enough," Mr. Dix told the Vancouver Sun. "What we need are smaller spends. And if the smaller spend doesn't work, sure you have to write off some money and it doesn't look good, but it's a smaller spend. When you start and approve projects with these $500-600-800 million in costs, and go ahead and spend a couple million you are stuck into those systems before you know that they work."

More articles on EHRs:

VA spent $1.1B over 6 years on an EHR it's trying to replace

Allscripts reports 1B API data shares in 1 year

VA explores interoperability with private hospitals

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