Intermountain's CIO Talks About Cerner Partnership

Intermountain Healthcare, based in Salt Lake City has announced a strategic partnership with Cerner Corp. to implement Cerner's electronic health record and revenue cycle management software across all of Intermountain's 22 hospitals and 185 clinics.

The partnership aims to use Cerner's advanced technologies to fully modernize Intermountain's systems. Intermountain has had a successful history in developing and implementing both clinical and administrative solutions, but this partnership seeks to take advantage of the systems already developed by Cerner, while allowing for customization to meet Intermountain's specific needs.

"We've been developing these kinds of systems for a long time, just without the same level of resources," says Marc Probst, CIO of Intermountain. "Cerner has thousands working on their software where we have hundreds," he says. "We're looking to modernize our capabilities by having these additional resources working on our systems."

Mr. Probst and his team are pursuing an aggressive timeline for implementing the Cerner systems — clinics will get the new software in 2014, hospitals in 2015. During implementation, Intermountain will also be adding decision support and analytic support tools into the new software to help the system achieve its goals, including improved care delivery and reduced costs. Altogether, "it's a huge project," says Mr. Probst, acknowledging many workflows and system processes around the organization will have to change as a result of the new software. "This new system will be everything for us," he says.

During a year-long vendor search, Intermountain selected Cerner over competing vendors with similarly high-functioning software. "Epic is tremendous software, no bad words against Epic," says Mr. Probst of one of Cerner's main competitors in the large hospital system market. However, he says Intermountain's IT team looked at vendors not just for technical capabilities but also customizability during their search.

"We were looking not just at today but where we need to be in a few years," says Mr. Probst. "And we thought [Cerner software] could be adapted to do what we want to do."

Specifically, Mr. Probst sees opportunities in cost management and clinical care protocol through the partnership with Cerner. "Cerner's vision is really aligned with ours," in terms of prioritizing quality care and delivery efficiency, says Mr. Probst. "There really is so much potential here."

Mr. Probst sees the partnership with Cerner as long term, lasting 20 years or more. He also sees an opportunity to expand the relationship and keep moving forward with Cerner software and products as the system continues to strive to be on the cutting edge.

For other hospitals looking for a model for a successful systemwide IT solution, Mr. Pabst offers Intermountain's. "We did not go about this naively," he says. "It really is worth looking at what we're doing."

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