Cerner Streamlines Healthcare Workflows, (Somewhat) Challenged by Open Source

This month Fast Company has a primer on digital medical records with a specific focus on Cerner Corp., one of the main software providers in this sector. The company has hundreds of doctors and nurses on staff to better adapt its software to actual clinical workflows. Though probably not groundbreaking for people familiar with the challenges and opportunities coming with healthcare IT, this article is a good wrap-up with plenty of examples. Among them, the two-hospital NCH Healthcare System in Naples, Florida, started working with Cerner more than a decade ago to automate lab work. It more recently extended that relationship to handle the ER, the pharmacy and nursing work. (Cerner issued this press release about NCH two months ago.) But Allen Weiss, president of NCH, acknowledges that the transition to a digital system can be taxing. The productivity of radiology transcriptionists took a serious hit in the process with radiology reports getting delayed as a result. With IT projects it often needs to get worse before it can get better.

Meanwhile, the Kansas City Business Journal mentions how open source software including Browsersoft for regional health information organizations (RHIOs) and a number of products for physicians offices, could put pricing pressure on commercial vendors such as Cerner. Jay Linney, Cerner’s vice president of state and regional health initiatives, was quoted as saying:

“[W]e haven’t seen (open source), thus far, as a real competitive threat. But it will keep us focused on being more innovative in terms of the solutions we build and deliver to our clients. […] If we didn’t continue to create value and extend our functionality, we would be in great peril, but I think you have to look at what’s happened in other industries where open source has been around for a while. It hasn’t put Oracle or Microsoft out of business.”

April 15, 2006 Related topics: Pricing, IT & software

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