Sunday, April 21

Tucson Hospitals Switching Electronic Health Records System as Nation Grows More Dissatisfied With Software

Hospitals in Tucson are getting rid of their $115 million electronic health records system as clinicians across the nation grow more and more dissatisfied with electronic health record systems.

The Arizona Daily Star reports that Banner Health announced two hospitals will not keep the Epic system, because the electronic health records system was one of the key reasons for struggle in 2014. Instead, Banner will transition both Banner-University Medical Center Tucson and Banner-University Medical Center South to a system called Cerner.

The investment in Epic turned out to be so expensive that the University of Arizona Health Network — which Banner acquired in March — experienced unprecedented operating losses in the 2014 fiscal year, including about $32 million in unbudgeted costs. According to a financial report to the UA Board of Directors from April of that year, about $6.8 million of the losses were attributed to physicians having to spend time getting trained on the system, which also caused them to be unable to see as many patients.

However, electronic health record (EHR) systems and electronic medical record (EMR) systems are designed to help healthcare practitioners and medical facilities serve more patients. In fact, electronic medical records have been shown to improve overall efficiency by 6% per year.

It should be noted that Banner isn’t simply getting rid of its EHR system. It’s transitioning to the system used by many of its other hospitals.

Industry data also shows that EHR software is helping the industry, too. According to a new report on the global EHR market from market research solution provider ReportLinker, the healthcare industry has witnessed a rapid adoption of EHR systems in the past two decades.

“EHR systems have proven to be effective in improving patient care, increasing patient safety, streamlining work processes at healthcare facilities and reducing treatment time,” ReportLinker wrote in a press release.

However, clinicians across the country have been growing dissatisfied with EHR and EMR systems. A new report published by the AmericanEHR Partners and the American Medical Association reveals that more clinicians are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with their EHR system in comparison to five years ago.

A similar survey from five years ago revealed that 39% of surveyed clinicians reported being satisfied with their EHR system, and 22% reported feeling very satisfied. The latest survey reveals that only 22% feel satisfied, and 12% report feeling very satisfied.

It also revealed more than half (54%) of respondents found their total operating costs actually increased with their EHR system. Almost half (43%) reported that they had yet to overcome EHR-related productivity challenges, as was the case with the two Tucson hospitals.

However, Banner expects eliminating the two hospitals’ use of one EHR system and switching to another will be ultimately beneficial.

“[Banner employees] are smart and resilient professionals. They understand the value and benefits of one EHR for Banner Health,” Katie Riley, a spokeswoman for the hospitals, wrote in an email to the Arizona Daily Star. “Banner will provide them with all the training they need to be comfortable using the Cerner system.”

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