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by Mariam Yaqoub AlSuwaidi | Fauza Hussain
Published on July 22, 2020

Siji Primary Health Center (PHC) is a greenfield facility located in the emirate of Fujairah, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Siji has joined a network of 17 hospitals and 70+ PHCs already connected to Cerner Millennium® (known as Wareed) under the Ministry of Health & Prevention, UAE (MOHAP).

The challenge faced by Siji PHC

Implementing a new electronic health record (EHR) system in normal circumstances can be challenging as considerable time and effort are required to plan, ensure the focus is kept on the details and consolidate all the deliverables and teams. Given the COVID-19 pandemic circumstances, how would a health care facility transition a PHC operating on paper to a fully automated EHR system without having Cerner associates on the ground for support?

As health care facilities around the world continue to support their local populations during this COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to be connected to a health information system to better support all parties involved from the government to clinicians to patients. Seeing this as a priority, there was no question Siji PHC needed to go live with Cerner Millennium.

But how can Cerner implement an integrated system immediately with an aggressive timeline, so clinicians are ready during this unprecedented time? How can Cerner enable the health care professionals to electronically store, capture and access patient information at their fingertips? These were all questions that came to mind.

Like any other health system around the globe when the reports of COVID-19 appeared, the leaders at MOHAP needed a holistic approach to keep their population safe.

The strategy of remote implementation

The Cerner ITWorks team took on this challenge and used it as a unique opportunity to take Siji PHC live remotely. In normal circumstances, the strategy behind a conversion implementation involves working at the facility to agree on timelines and deliverables, organize training in classrooms, conduct personal physician workshops and other planning elements that require one-on-one or on-site group interactions.

However, taking into consideration the rules around social distancing, Cerner was restricted from large gatherings to minimal interpersonal contact. The approach was agreed with MOHAP to complete all tasks remotely. Cerner’s team had the confidence of MOHAP and the clinicians to rise to the challenge of getting Millennium up and running.

Challenge accepted

During the preparation, teams from Cerner planned how to successfully navigate the virtual conversion, including detailing the communication and providing a solid remote plan.

Meetings were scheduled with Cerner’s training teams and the integration architect to strategize how Cerner would cater to a remote implementation, which was a Cerner-first in the Middle East. Though the build activities and configurations could continue as normal, the training activities would not. The second item was to come up with a timeline for conversion. The agreed timeline ensured that patients were able to get the right care while visiting the PHC. A different approach to learning was established with various learning methods and always keeping the clinicians in mind. This included delivering content through videos and mobile-friendly Quick Reference Guides. Additionally, structured learning was provided to accommodate clinicians’ visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning requirements. Online training was made available to clinicians around the clock and complemented by role-specific learning materials at any given time to upgrade their skills and increase their knowledge.

Since it was not possible to have onsite support teams, Cerner collaborated with other internal teams to accommodate a unique support approach. A dedicated Cerner team created a remote command center helpline, which connected remotely to clinicians’ computers, thereby helping to troubleshoot any issues for build or configuration. Cerner leveraged an ITSM (IT Service Management) tool, which is a complete incident, problem and change management tool. The calls were logged as tickets and triaged out to the application associates.

The Cerner learning associates directly called the clinicians to talk them through any workflow clarifications. A remote daily catch-up meeting helped keep all the teams aligned and ensured Cerner was aware of all issues and on the right track for a successful implementation.

Siji PHC successfully went live with Millennium on 31 May 2020.

The results of the first remote EHR implementation

Given the COVID-19 situation, Siji PHC has not reached its full capacity, which in turn allowed the clinicians ample time to familiarize themselves with the new system. Despite the bulk of the learning being done remotely and the Cerner support team not being physically onsite, the implementation was very successful and commended by MOHAP.


For information regarding Cerner’s content and assistance in light of the COVID-19, please click here.