Banner Health weathers 'painful period' as Tucson campus transitions from Epic to Cerner

A $45 million EHR transition is causing scheduling delays at hospitals and clinics at Banner-University Medical Center Tuscon, which just rolled out its second EHR system in 5 years.

Banner Health's Tucson campus went live with its Cerner implementation on Oct. 1, triggering what Chief Clinical Officer John Hensing, M.D., called a “painful period” for the health system’s operations, according to the Arizona Daily Star. Hensing predicted there would be more stability by the end of the year, but acknowledged patients and staff would have to deal with some delays over the next several weeks.

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The provider is also facing an investigation from the Arizona Department of Health Services, which has received complaints about the new system. A spokesperson said the Tucson facility added more IT staffing levels through the beginning of 2018 to provide additional support and is cooperating with state authorities.

“There will be a degradation in the way the system operates,” Hensing told the news outlet. “Patients and physicians, and nurses and others will almost certainly experience that. That is true for any new application like this. It’s a complicated event to move everyone from one system to another.”

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Banner-University Medical Center switched from Epic to Cerner after the system acquired the University of Arizona Health Network in 2015. The University of Arizona spent $115 million to install an Epic system in 2013, which led to significant operating losses in 2014. Banner initiated the switch to Cerner after the acquisition to align with the rest of the health system, which operates across six states.

Hensing noted that one major reason for making the switch to Cerner was because staff wanted to tap into big data capabilities across the entire system.