Tenet Healthcare Corp. announced Thursday it has extended its long-term contract with Cerner Corp.
The Dallas-based for-profit hospital chain did not disclose the length or share financial terms of the contract, but said it will continue working with the electronic health records vendor to make its information systems more efficient across its hospitals and provide a unified experience for patients and clinicians.
Paola Arbour, Tenet's chief information officer, told Modern Healthcare the new contract leverages a partnership that's been in the works for more than 20 years. Over that time, Tenet has added more of Cerner's features and functionality across its enterprise, she said.
"That symbiotic relationship is what we capitalized on," she said.
Several Cerner customers have voiced frustration with its hospital patient accounting system, said Erik Bermudez, vice president of emerging healthcare markets and technology research with KLAS Research. He was not familiar with the contract between Tenet and Cerner.
"A lot of customers are reporting to KLAS: Cerner needs to improve on patient accounting," he said. "They have to get better. The system is just not meeting our expectations."
Tenet spokeswoman Lesley Bogdanow said Cerner's patient accounting software is not part of the new contract.
Under the new contract, Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner will help Tenet with automation, optimizing clinicians' user experience, interoperability of its systems and building a modern cloud infrastructure. Through Tenet's participation in the data sharing network CommonWell Health Alliance, its clinicians will have access to an aggregated system where they can view patient records across different healthcare systems, hospitals and clinics, the company said.
In addition to its EHR platform, Cerner provides services like support operations, workflow configuration and problem management, Arbour said. Tenet asks its physicians and nurses for continuous feedback on the EHR, and she said Cerner is very responsive.
"It is an incredibly collaborative relationship," she said.
Sam Pettijohn, Cerner's senior vice president of client relationships, said in a statement that the company's in-depth knowledge of Tenet's hospitals and the breadth of solutions it offers will further meet Tenet's needs at scale.
"Our history of creating solutions to make healthcare more efficient and our commitments to interoperability and advancing intelligence in automation will support them in improving the patient and clinician experience," he said.
Cerner's fourth quarter 2018 financial results reported earlier this week were a mixed bag. Despite recording its second highest quarterly bookings in company history in the quarter, the company missed its revenue goals.
Epic has won the majority of large hospital and multi-hospital EHR contracts in recent years, while most of Cerner's deals have been among hospitals with 200 beds or less, Bermudez said.
"This just points to and is evidence that there are customers that are loyal Cerner customers and they are willing to go through the pain, help Cerner become better and stick with that platform to ensure that they improve on the revenue-cycle side and that they push and challenge Cerner to where they need to be," he said.