Banner Health’s EHR conversion last year caused numerous reported medical errors, according to public records from the Arizona Department of Health investigation released to the Arizona Daily Star.
The records, although heavily redacted, indicate Banner’s Tucson facilities’ Oct. 1 switch from Epic to Cerner negatively affected patients and frustrated staff.
The findings did not lead to punishment for Banner, as the state investigation determined the system took “sufficient corrective action” for the substantiated allegations regarding the conversion, the records show.
EHR transitions are costly — always in time, always in money and sometimes (in the worst case scenario) in quality of inpatient care.
The Phoenix-based health system switched its Tucson hospitals and clinics from an Epic EHR to the Cerner system amid a slew of issues. Epic and Cerner are the market leaders in EHRs for acute-care hospitals.
Banner, a 38-hospital system, switched its University of Arizona's Health Network to Epic in 2013 for an estimated $115 million in a relatively smooth transition. Last year, Banner decided to switch its Tuscon hospitals to Cerner, as all of its other facilities were already on the platform.
The price tag for Banner was $45 million, along with a distinct drop in reputation.
The result of the transition, according to complaints on record, was an inability to reliably “deliver medications, order tests, care for critically ill patients, schedule outpatients” and administer chemotherapy, along with multiple computer and printer glitches that impaired patient care.
Although Banner leadership denied the charges of negative patient outcomes, “the hospital’s occurrence log for October 2017 showed numerous incidents of medical errors reported to be a result of the conversion,” state investigators said in the report.
Banner did not respond to an email from Healthcare Dive seeking comment.
One particularly egregious error involved a physician writing an overly large medication dose for a baby, a mistake due to the systems’ differing weight measures. The error was caught and corrected before the infant received the dose.
But Banner contends it has improved its system, saying more than 100 changes to the new Cerner EHR system have already been made.
In addition, a 2016 BMJ study found no negative implications of EHR implementation on short-term inpatient mortality, adverse safety events or even hospital readmission overall. About 11% of acute care hospitals are switching or planning on switching their EHR provider in 2018.