Amid Cerner dispute, 2 Island Health physicians pen op-ed in support of EHRs

Despite contention surrounding a recent Cerner EHR implementation at British Columbia, Canada-based Vancouver Island Health Authority, two health system physicians highlighted the benefits of EHRs in an op-ed for the Times Colonist.

Drew Digney, MD, executive medical director for Island Health's Nanaimo, Oceanside, Alberni and Clayoquot communities, and Ben Williams, MD, medical director for Island Health's Oceanside community, are two of the physicians responsible for implementing the EHR system, called IHealth.

IHealth, created through a contract with Cerner, went live March 19. Shortly thereafter, physicians at Nanaimo (British Columbia) Regional Hospital reverted to using pen and paper to complete orders, claiming the EHR system randomly lost, buried or changed orders for drugs and diagnostic tests.

In their op-ed, Dr. Digney and Dr. Williams claimed the IHealth system will improve care coordination by creating a single health record for Vancouver Island residents.

They also noted the EHR has sent more than 2,000 warnings about medication usage and more than 3,600 warnings related to drug interactions since implementation, in an effort to reduce medication errors. A paper-based record system, by contrast, "is prone to error, due to illegible handwriting, transcription mistakes and other manual processes such as faxing," according to the writers.

"We acknowledge that the implementation of the EHR has not been easy or without error, and we agree that there is much work to be done," they wrote. "We look forward to continuing to improve the EHR at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and Oceanside, and working with staff, physicians and patients across Island Health so that all residents receive better, faster and safer care."

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