Crisp Regional Health, an integrated delivery system anchored by 73-bed Crisp Regional Hospital in Cordele, Ga., has started the process of moving away from use of a variety of electronic health records systems in favor of the Cerner Millennium EHR.

The organization has used Meditech for the hospital, Allscripts for physicians and specialty EHRs supporting the nursing home, home health, hospice and its dialysis centers.

Dealing with multiple EHRs was impeding the organization’s ability to focus on continuity of care, says Jessica Carter, vice president and chief financial officer. “We need to get to value-based care and have more insight into the community.”

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Crisp Regional assessed a range of EHR vendors and conducted several provider site visits before selecting Cerner, which got the nod in part because physicians liked Millennium’s workflow as well as prebuilt modules for ancillary systems.

The organization also was swayed by the fact that Cerner has a division that works with community hospitals and the organization can learn much from the vendor, Carter adds.

To move forward on the transition, Crisp Regional in late March hired a project manager and presently expects to go live on Cerner in the summer of 2019. The hospital and practices will be the first to use Cerner, and then ancillary providers will be migrated to the system.

During the planning process, the organization relied heavily on consultants, “to help us think about things we had not considered,” she adds. “What questions do we need to ask when developing the request for proposal? What questions should we ask on site visits? How do we walk the organization through all the changes?”

Consultants also will assist in making the crosswalks from the old EHRs to Millennium. Having a battery of consultants with different strengths and experience turned out to be a good move, Carter says.

“It’s important to align yourself with people who can make sure you are making the right decisions along the way. This is a huge investment financially and there will be huge process changes that will impact our system.”

Asked if lessons have already been learned as the project gets underway that peer organizations should know about, Carter says it’s too early to know. “Unfortunately, we’re going to have to go through that. There will be stormy phases in the implementation so the workforce is nervous but excited. This program will give us the opportunity to spend more time with patients and less time documenting care.”

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