TECH: Just another EMR puff piece….on Cerner?

Anyone who’s ever read Fast Company won’t be surprised at the slightly breathless tones used in one of their typical "business gets new process, struggles a little at first, then succeeds beyond its wildest dreams" plot line. After all this was the magazine that was aped by a certain not quite so polite web-site also ending in "company", and beginning with an F.

What’s a little different is that this article, Record Time, is about a simple ObGYN adopting an ambulatory EMR, and then having all the usual crises of seeing his practice more or less collapse because of the extra time it took to figure out how to use it.

But apparently in this case the vendor sent donuts, and someone who built him templates and showed him how to use it. Repeat with me–a practice barely alive, but we can rebuild it, we have the technology, we can create the world’s first bionic physician’s office….it will be gooder than it was before…and all for slightly less than $6 million! (Look here if you’re too young to get it…)

Given that the vendor in question is Cerner, notorious for its not always quite as smooth as silk implementations, you’d be entitled to a little cynicism here. (and if you think I’m just relaying industry tattle here from HISTalk, you are of course right!). However, last year a very sharp IT consultant told me that his shop had done a real life performance comparison of the major ambulatory EMRs and Cerner’s Powerchart product (which was new and had little market penetration) had actually beaten out the big boys. So better product, with better customer service? Can it be true? Or is this just more "pie in the face for Neal Patterson" ammo?

Of course it would be nice if the article told us a little more about exactly how the physician got from near chaos to everything running as smooth as silk without avoiding total financial collapse. Several of his colleagues reported on in Medical Economics recently weren’t so lucky.

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  1. We’re in the throes of a Cerner transition, doing the half electronic, half paper thing, which I have to agree is the worst of all worlds. It gives me hope to see others comment on the pain of the transition. We haven’t seen the system melt-down we envisioned, we’re instead being stung by a thousand menu discrepancies, poor look-ups, the ‘builds’ not being adequately built. All surmountable stuff..in time. It does tell me that even after we all get technically adept, it will still slow patient care because so much more now needs to be entered. We will have to fundamentally change the way we move pts through our ER, with the EMR as the core infrastructure, requiring a second ‘process change’. Once the investment is made, we’re not going back.

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