Cerner: Turning into the Skid

Turning a corner should be a simple thing. However, while watching “Cars” with my kids the other day, I was reminded that it’s not always that simple. In the movie, Doc Hudson instructs Lightning McQueen to turn his wheels into the skid to maintain better control when traveling at high speeds on a dirt road. For me, watching Cerner’s customer satisfaction feedback over the past few years has been equally gripping.
 

A few years ago, a good CIO friend of mine introduced me to a new word: Cernover. He predicted that it would become a common term used to describe Cerner hospitals moving to Epic for their core software.
 

Fast forward a few years to conversations I hear today and there have indeed been some sites that have moved from Cerner to Epic. But, not the tidal wave that this CIO had expected.
 

Instead, many of the “on the bubble” customers are solidly Cerner fans (with real success to back them up), and the happy customers all talk about how Cerner has stepped up. Cerner has always had great vision marred by some delivery hiccups, but now customers are even raving about delivery.
 

What happened?
 

I’m sure there are many reasons for their improvement, but most of the change seems to hinge around several great people. One of those is Mike Nill; his leadership is behind Cerner’s code quality improvements and remote hosting. As one provider mentioned, “The quality assurance and the quality of the code process with Cerner have improved under Mike Nill's guidance; I am grateful for the good things he has ushered in.”
 

As a result of these and other changes, Cerner’s KLAS ranking has skyrocketed—moving from 7th to 2nd in a 4-year period (December 2007 to December 2011).
 

Another CIO commented, “I think the support for Cerner Millennium PowerChart has gotten a lot better in the last couple of years. The quality of Cerner's codes and upgrades has improved dramatically as well. It used to be that every time we did an upgrade, we spent weeks and weeks trying to figure out what was wrong. It has now been three or four upgrades since we had anything significant show up. Cerner is doing a much better job of making sure their software works when they release it.”
 

Customers say they would buy from Cerner again 93% of the time; that’s up from a low point of 81% in 2008. And more clients are turning to Cerner’s hosted services. According to yet another CIO, “The remote hosting service that Cerner provides is by far their most solid asset. Those services are rock solid.”  Now that’s a turnaround.
 

Hats off to Cerner and to other vendors that have turned their wheels into the skid and come out better for it. I’m thinking the new word for them should be “Ka-chow!”  
 

Has your vendor turned a corner? Let us know. We’ll check it out and make it known.
 

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