Oracle's Cerner rebranding exercise gathers momentum

We’ve been watching the progress of the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ EHR modernisation project for quite a few years now, fascinated by what is a mammoth undertaking at a frankly quite extortionate cost. The $US16 billion project was controversial from the beginning, with an aged and yet beloved bespoke system called VistA ripped out to make way for Cerner’s Millennium EMR across numerous VA hospitals and health facilities, linked to the Department of Defense and the US Coast Guard.

The first small sites went live Ohio and Washington in 2020 and immediately ran into problems, which in turn has delayed proposed implementations at larger sites. Concerns have also been raised the price tag for the 10-year project may double or even triple and rival the GDP of a small country. This has led to intense speculation that if the problems aren’t fixed, the whole project may be scrapped.

The drama comes as Oracle continues its steep learning curve about all things EMR following its $US26 billion purchase of Cerner. As we discussed last week, Cerner execs have been fronting up to Congressional hearings sounding incredibly positive about how the third largest software company in the world would handle the largest health IT company. It didn’t take long to sink in that clinical software is a whole new ballgame for Oracle and is fraught with danger and complexity. Larry Ellison and his team may have bitten off more than they can chew.

That hasn’t stopped the rebranding exercise in distant Australia however, with Oracle Cerner making an appearance as a major sponsor at the Australian Institute of Digital Health’s summit in Perth today. Cerner usually turns up to these sorts of events on the east coast but there’s no doubt that they are looking at WA Health’s proposed statewide EMR out west – if it ever gets off the ground, that is.

Altera Health – the rebranded Allscripts’ EMR arm – was there too, supported its local implementation of Opal, the rebranded BOSSnet digital medical record. Interestingly, Orion Health was out in force too, as was Telstra Health, which turns up to the opening of an envelope, and new star Salesforce, which helped WA Health with its vaccination scheduling and management program for COVID.

WA Health told us recently that it as committed to an EMR despite no money being made available in the budget this year. Instead, almost $6.8m has been awarded recently to a local computer supplies firm for a big old bunch of Kodak Alaris scanners, along with accessories, consumables, training and maintenance for what is being called a statewide DMR roll-out. We know of at least two large hospitals that don’t want to have a bar of a digital record and are waiting anxiously for a full EMR, but it’s not looking likely for them in the near term.

In other big overseas moves, 3M has announced it will be hiving off its healthcare business from its core business in Post-It Notes and glue, but will still retain a share of its surgical supplies and software business. 3M is the market leader in hospital coding and clinical documentation solutions in Australia and New Zealand, so it will be interesting to keep on eye on this one too. On the other hand, Lyniate, which owns the Rhapsody integration engine built by Orion Health and integral to many hospitals in ANZ, is consolidating. It is merging with Danish interoperability and clinical terminology specialist CareCom, which has worked closely with Orion Health for years, so it all makes sense. In other interoperability news, HL7 has launched a new community called GenomeX to enhance genomic data interoperability.

Closer to home, and our most popular story by far this week was the news from Hunter New England Central Coast PHN about its digital health grants. PHNs have lost a little prominence in the digital health world since the old Medicare Local days when it was a big focus, although there have certainly been a few standouts. Western Sydney PHN, South East Melbourne, Gippsland, Brisbane North, Tasmania, South Western Sydney and the three-PHN alliance in WA have all been doing good things, so we plan to start taking a closer look at what each PHN is doing in digital health on a regular basis. Reckon your PHN is doing good things? Let us know here.

That brings us to our poll question for the week:

Are PHNs doing a good job in their role in digital health?

Vote here or leave your comments below.

In our poll last week, we asked: Are you convinced by the ADHA CEO’s positive outlook on MyHR? Not many were, we’re afraid. 16 per cent said yes, but 84 per cent said no.

We also asked why you voted yes or no. Here’s what you said.

Tags: Cerner, Oracle

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