Island Health clinicians, officials continue dispute over Cerner implementation: 5 things to know

British Columbia, Canada-based Vancouver Island Health Authority officials are considering mediation efforts with clinicians after an unpopular EHR implementation, according to the Times Colonist.

Here are five things to know about the dispute.

1. In 2013, Island Health signed a 10-year, $50 million deal with Cerner to implement an EHR, called IHealth, across the health system. The IHealth system went live March 19. Shortly thereafter, physicians at Nanaimo (British Columbia) Regional Hospital reverted to using pen and paper to complete orders, claiming Cerner's EHR system randomly lost, buried or changed orders for drugs and diagnostic tests.

2. Although physicians signed a petition asking Island Health to suspend further implementation, health system officials decided to move forward with the process. Last summer, Island Health offered select on-call physicians $260 per day and select emergency room physicians up to $780 per day to continue using the EHR system

3. In February, CBC News reported Island Health would temporarily stop using the IHealth software. "The deeper learnings that we've had is that these systems fundamentally change the way that our physicians and nurses and other practitioners do their work," Island Health CEO Brendan Carr told CBC News at the time.

4. However, Island Health later reversed its decision and did not pull the EHR system, according to the Times Colonist. Dr. Alan Ruddiman, president of the British Columbia physician association Doctors of B.C., toured Nanaimo Regional General Hospital June 1 and told the publication the dispute over the EHR system had caused an unhealthy work environment which was affecting patient care.

"I met with a whole group of physicians across all of the different specialties who have, I think, shared and very frankly shared their concerns and their ongoing discomfort with the IHealth electronic health record as it relates to computerized order entry," Dr. Ruddiman told the Times Colonist.

5. Mr. Carr told the Times Colonist Island Health has been considering mediation between clinicians and officials. Island Health has already asked a third-party consultant and "workplace culture committee" to offer additional support to staff, according to the report. However, he emphasized Island Health will not remove the EHR system, which benefits patients through functions like automatic alerts.

"There's a tremendous amount of evidence that the system is doing what it's meant to do and creating benefits for patients," Mr. Carr told the Times Colonist.

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