Customers weigh in on Cerner's Siemens acquisition

After Cerner's $1.3 billion acquisition of Siemens' health IT unit, Cerner users already familiar with Siemens see the two companies' systems moving toward integration.

Since Cerner Corp. bought Siemens AG's EHR unit, Siemens users have expressed optimism about the future, and Cerner customers with Siemens connections are taking a similarly sanguine view of their fate in the hands of a healthcare IT colossus that looks to have surpassed its arch-competitor, Epic Systems Corp., in size and reach.

Longtime customers of Kansas City, Mo.-based Cerner, a potential new number one in the EHR business after the $1.3 billion cash deal in August 2014, say they see value in the Siemens acquisition, their technology offerings, and in the German-bred vendor's research horsepower.

And perhaps more significantly, IT executives at Cerner sites see a lot of potential for integration between the two companies' systems.

At Miami's Jackson Healthcare System, the nonprofit, teaching hospital-affiliated system serving Dade County, Florida, the IT department uses Cerner's Millennium platform on the front end for registration and scheduling and Siemens' Invision on the back end for accounting.

By these two joining forces now, by being one company, their goals is to strengthen their products and make their products better.
Mike GarciaCIO, Jackson Healthcare System

CIO Mike Garcia said that previously he wasn't sure what the future held for Siemens's products, including Invision and Soarian, Siemens' clinical and financial-scheduling product.

That uncertainty has all but been erased, he said.

"Now it's a much easier picture for us," Garcia said. "Now we don't have to worry how it all comes together. By these two joining forces now, by being one company, their goals are to strengthen their products and make their products better.

"As a customer, what more can you ask for than having these two together with the same goal … to make an integrated system," he continued.

Another Cerner user who is also a Siemens user, Mitzi Cardenas, senior vice president of Truman Medical Centers, in Cerner's hometown of Kansas City, expressed her positive outlook about the newly expanded company in a recent post on the Cerner corporate blog.

"Combining the experience of these two companies has the potential to accelerate exciting new advancements in health throughout all venues of care," she wrote. "The prospect of enhanced integration between imaging and the EHR is also an exciting possibility.

Truman is a Siemens client on the imaging side, noted Cardenas, who is responsible for strategy, business development and technology at the healthcare system.

"Imaging is an integral part of how we care for patients today, from diagnostics to use as a communications tool between providers, patients and their families," Cardenas continued. "Deeper integration between these two systems would be extremely valuable, enhancing the context of clinical information for our providers."

As for Garcia, he added that he expects Cerner will leverage Siemens' well-regarded research and development operations and merge it with Cerner's own research capabilities.

Garcia has said he considers both Cerner's and Siemens' systems "mission critical" for him. He called Invision a "workhorse" and said Jackson's recent 60-day installation of Cerner's Millennium 2012 upgrade went well.

Now, he said looks forward to seeing the systems working together. More integration should produce efficiencies that have the potential to both lower costs and technological failures "and make patient care better," he said.

"One has to talk to the other. Integration will be huge for us," he said. "We're very excited."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to fix an error in the pull-quote.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writeror contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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