In 2014, when Cerner Corp. bought the health IT division of Siemens for $1.3 billion, there was lots of speculation about what the customers of Siemens’ Soarian platform would do. In a July 2015 feature story, Cerner executives told Healthcare Informatics that the company would support Soarian long term. But a new report from KLAS Research found that most Soarian Clinicals customers are looking elsewhere because they view Soarian as an “orphaned product.”
The July 2015 HCI report said that while many in the industry assumed Cerner would push Soarian clients towards Cerner’s Millennium platform, Dick Flanigan, president of Cerner HS, the Cerner business unit formerly known as Siemens Health Services, said the company would advance and support Soarian for ten years. “It’s a clear message to the client base that you don’t have to make a quick decision,” he said. Other product lineups, such as MedSeries, will be supported but not advanced. He said that clients looking for an “end-to-end platform” would be likely migrate toward Millennium.
The KLAS Research report found that 87 percent of Soarian customers, 39 of 45 organizations interviewed, are leaving or considering leaving Soarian. Sixty-four percent left in 2015 or expected to leave in 2016. Several providers told KLAS that it made little sense for Cerner to continue to invest in Soarian. KLAS noted that before the acquisition, Soarian customers were moving almost exclusively to Epic, but now many are considering Cerner as a viable alternative.
“Cerner’s acquisition of Siemens touches the foundational HIT systems of hundreds of provider organizations and has Soarian customers on an accelerated path to an EMR change,” said Coray Tate, vice president of clinical research at KLAS, in a prepared statement. “Patient accounting customers are hoping the vendors’ historically weak financial systems will become stronger together.”
Cerner Patient Accounting and Soarian Financials continue to be two of the lowest-performing patient accounting products, KLAS said. Yet providers using both products told KLAS they are hopeful the acquisition will bring positive change. As it stands, Cerner will need to make significant changes to elevate both solutions to become viable revenue cycle contenders, KLAS said.
The July 2015 HCI feature included comments from executives of one Soarian customer, University of South Alabama (USA) Health System. It had been a Soarian customer for four or five years, before making the decision to move to Cerner’s Millennium. The organization had a conglomeration of different IT systems and a desire to become more integrated with the shift towards value-based care accelerating in Alabama. “Siemens didn’t have a lot of solutions. They were partnering with a lot of people which meant a lot of interfacing,” said Beth Anderson, hospital administrator. “We thought it was a good move for us. We have a proactive CIO who started making calls to fellow institutions that had Cerner. We were getting positive comments back,” Anderson said.
Thus, the Cerner acquisition came along at a good time. After doing the aforementioned prospective research, Mark Lauteren, CIO at USA Health System, reached out to Cerner and was subsequently invited to Kansas City for a user meeting. Anderson, who attended the meeting, was blown away by Cerner’s integration offerings. Once they saw it first hand, they calculated the financials and realized it made sense to migrate.
“We started comparing what it would cost to [migrate everything to Millennium] and what it would cost to stay on Soarian – knowing that at some point it wouldn’t be supported – and we conducted a financial analysis,” Anderson said. “In the end, working with Cerner and getting more functionality and integration would save us millions of dollars over a seven-year period, if we could swallow the cost of a big-bang conversion.”