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Cornwall Community Hospital, Eastern Ontario

Cornwall Community Hospital marks five years using Cerner electronic health record

Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

It was December 2016 when the Cornwall Community Hospital (CCH) went live with the Cerner Millennium® electronic health record (EHR), allowing CCH to become an innovative leader in healthcare delivery in Eastern Ontario.

The move to Cerner Millennium came shortly after a major redevelopment project that saw two Cornwall-area hospitals consolidate on one site to become CCH in 2014. A new, modern and state-of-the-art facility would house 160 beds, employ more than 1,200 staff and 180 physicians, and provide a full range of acute inpatient, outpatient and community services to over approximately 100,000 people throughout the region.

However, this also called for a renewed look at the hospital’s digital health systems to complement the new facility, consolidate its teams, and better meet the needs of the community as well as its growing workforce and services.

“It could be said that Cerner Millennium brought CCH into the next millennium from where we were before, in terms of widespread digital integration and consolidation of our teams, and strengthened and streamlined operations,” explains Mohammed Shaheen, Chief Information and Operating Officer at CCH.

“Nurses, respiratory therapists, physiotherapists and others are all working together on this unified platform; it’s truly been an electronic collaboration centre that pulls our teams together. Arguably, the integration of Cerner Millennium is as much a game changer for our hospital, our patients and our community as the capital redevelopment project was.”

One of the most basic improvements introduced through Cerner Millennium included the ability for physicians to digitally access patient charts from anywhere in the hospital. Compared to five years ago, caregivers are seeing 30% more patients and outpatient visits have nearly doubled.

“Everything from problem lists, medications, allergies and previous hospital visits can be pulled up in an instant using a wireless workstation, which is extremely helpful in emergency situations. Transferring care to other providers is also safer with better and more complete information and hand-offs,” says Dr. Lorne Scharf, Emergency Physician at CCH.

Cerner Millennium has proven extremely adaptable for CCH. Over the past five years, the hospital has leveraged its capabilities and spent a considerable amount of time fine-tuning workflows and developing custom solutions for various departments and clinics to meet their specific needs. Fine-tuning workflows has given time back to patient care. CCH is a leader in physician workflow times compared to other Cerner clients in Canada.

For instance, CCH provides sophisticated clinical decision support and patient safety checks directly to its healthcare workers through Cerner.

Recently, CCH integrated the booking software used at surgeon’s offices with its Cerner EHR to provide surgeons with the ability to electronically schedule surgeries and procedures with CCH. This eliminates manual entry by clerical staff and also helps to better manage surgical waiting lists. First Case On-Time Starts have improved by over 15% since 2018 with over 82% of surgeries starting on time.

CCH has also put more patients at the centre of their care teams thanks to Cerner Millennium. For example, patients are provided with their very own Cerner-generated discharge summaries, and CCH has introduced new digital engagement tools that integrate within the Cerner Millennium EHR, including the MyChart Patient Portal and SeamlessMD for digital pre- and post-surgical monitoring.

CCH is the first hospital in Canada to integrate SeamlessMD with its Cerner EHR using SMART on FHIR technology, the latest EHR interoperability framework available from Cerner. With SMART on FHIR, the doors have been blown wide open for more third-party digital tools designed for patients and caregivers, such as SeamlessMD, to be added to the hospital’s portfolio.

Cerner Millennium also played a critical role in the hospital’s COVID-19 preparedness. When the pandemic began in the spring of 2020, CCH was better positioned to respond and build capacity thanks to the Cerner EHR, and the hospital quickly opened a community COVID-19 testing centre and vaccination clinic, with appointments being made directly in the Cerner patient chart.

The improvements brought forth at CCH thanks to the Cerner EHR have not only been noticed by patients, but also by peers. In 2019, CCH was designated with Exemplary Standing from Accreditation Canada, the highest designation attainable awarded to a Canadian hospital that attains the highest level of performance. A number of workflows that were evaluated by Accreditation Canada relied on Cerner.

After five years of using the Cerner Millennium EHR, “It’s hard to imagine ever having worked without it,” claims Dr. Scharf. “Cerner Millennium facilitates safe, effective workflows for our staff to carry out on a daily basis.” CCH is ranked #1 across Canada-based Cerner clients in authoring electronic notes in the EHR and is also a leader in computerized physician order entry (CPOE). Since implementation, clinical decision support has doubled in volume, allowing the EHR to fuel caregivers to make the right decision at the right time resulting in the best outcomes for the patient.

As CCH looks to the future, there are even more opportunities for innovation, mobile solutions, and integration with the community using Cerner.

However, according to Mohammed, one of the great incidental benefits of embarking on its implementation is that it created an atmosphere of teamwork, inclusivity and a common purpose – which he says is equally as important.

“Throughout the integration process, and over the past five years, new relationships have been forged between teams and will continue to flourish for many years to come. Ultimately, these new partnerships and improvements have led to a better workplace and better patient outcomes.”

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realised by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.