California prison system's Cerner EHR implementation doubles in cost to nearly $400M

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In 2013, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation decided to replace its paper records system with a Cerner EHR, which officials estimated would cost $182 million. In the three years since, the cost has ballooned to $386.5 million, according to the News-Times.

What led to the cost increase? The initial $182 million estimate didn't include the cost of replacing old equipment and maintaining the new system, according to the article. J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed receiver who approved the project, also said the heightened cost was due to the $13 million worth of mobile devices necessary to complement the EHR.

"The more charitable description is we learned as we went along," Mr. Kelso said. "We started out with as cheap a system as we thought we could use, and then along the way there were some things that we decided, 'You know, we absolutely need these, it turns out.'"

Mr. Kelso also blamed the EHR issues on Cerner, with which CDCR contracted to implement the system. The CDCR will pay Cerner $177 million over the EHR project's 11-year life, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

Due to one year of delays, the EHR won't be implemented in all 35 CDCR prisons until the end of 2017.

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