Cerner, Mission Health Rewrite Partnership Rules - InformationWeek

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Healthcare // Electronic Health Records
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Cerner, Mission Health Rewrite Partnership Rules

Ten-year contract rewards EMR vendor Cerner if Mission Health saves money on new cost-saving measures they implement together.

our clients instead of reacting. It takes a lot of time and effort out of it," Burns said. "This cuts out a lot of this time and allows organizations to be a lot more nimble and agile going forward."

There are other advantages, too.

If the two organizations implement a cost-saving measure, they will share the financial reward, said Sulaiman. "If we achieve a saving of $1 million we will be happy to share that with Cerner. It's an incentive-based initiative that will incent both Mission and Cerner," he said. "I honestly think that's kind of unique. We appreciate the Cerner partnership. We both have to win."

Cerner can then take this work and customize or standardize it for other customers, said Sulaiman. And its close relationship to Mission Health gives the developer access to a plethora of knowledge and potential pilot users.

"As we develop new solutions we have the opportunity to get Mission Health's input, input from real live users. That's something we're already thinking about working on," Burns said. "That's in process."

Cerner adjusted some software costs and gave Mission Health access to all its software, said Sulaiman. This helps control costs while promoting Cerner products throughout the 10,600-employee organization, he said. However, Mission Health still will consider alternative products if Cerner's technology does not meet its needs, said Sulaiman.

"With the new alignment we have fixed some of that cost and we have extended access to all of the Cerner solutions. As long as that solution exists today, we have access to that license. We only need to pay for the professional services implementation and any integration needed," he said.

Previously, Mission Health had to get a quote from Cerner, review the demo, and consider its options. This approach, while traditional, was time-consuming and expensive, said Sulaiman.

Mission Health is not alone in seeking new, deeper relationships with key vendors, said Burns. Although intense, long-term contracts will not replace today's standard approach, Cerner works closely with several organizations -- including Intermountain Health, the Bear Institute, and the University of Missouri -- although Mission Health's relationship is the longest and most complex, she said.

"We've recognized that we need to adapt as much as they need to adapt to the future," said Burns. "We recognize that they're looking for dependable costs that they can understand and they can predict and they're looking for less variation in them and we're trying to help them achieve those goals."

That said, this model is not for every healthcare organization, executives cautioned. It's not merely a new payment model, Burns said.

"The clients we do this usually want to go faster in leveraging IT and not all organizations have the appetite for that," she said.

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David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
7/3/2014 | 12:01:19 PM
Re: A Bold Move
The way Cerner and Mission Health are working together to align compensation with value delivered reminds me of the relationship government and private payers are trying to establish for paying for healthcare. If Mission Health participates in value-based reimbursement schemes such as Accountable Care Organizations, having the vendor aligned with the same sort of goals ought to make them more successful. Makes sense, hope it works for them.
User Rank: Author
7/3/2014 | 10:00:39 AM
A Bold Move
This is, I think, a very bold move by Cerner and Mission Health. In Cerner's case, it is taking a reduction in software income; in Mission Health's case, it is giving Cerner unheard of access to staff, infrastructure, and plans. The benefits, if all goes as planned, will reward both -- and even if the partnership does not deliver savings, there are other pluses. However, I would bet the two organizations will realize some financial savings and quality improvements through this tight partnership. 

As both executives said, this type of arrangement is not for everyone, though. It definitely requires a lot of commitment, flexibility, and foresight, plus a willingness to cede some control (on both sides). It will be very interesting to see how the contract progresses over the next decade. 
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