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Published on May 27, 2020

Epic Update: What you need to know

Vision 20-22 Epic training

By Claudia Dolphin

As COVID-19 has upended so many aspects of our community and caused disruptions to business as usual, one project that has sustained momentum at Cape Cod Healthcare is the implementation of the Epic.

“We’re ten months into a 16-month implementation,” said Paul Solverson, senior vice president and Chief Information Officer for Cape Cod Healthcare. “Despite these challenging times, we have maintained progress on the project and we still believe that we can achieve our plans to go-live on November 1st.”

Solverson and the project team have been working diligently behind the scenes to design and build the system, and are now in the testing phase. They are also finalizing the training curriculum and plan, in anticipation of commencing training in September.

The registration period for training was due to start this month but hasn’t yet begun.

“That is one thing that we had to adjust,” said Amy Pineiro, manager of Epic training. “ We will get this started in June, but it shortens the registration period.”

She implores staff to pay close attention to their email and other system-wide communications for notices of dates and deadlines. Employees will need to be highly engaged in that process and, given the condensed timeframe, they need to be on top of it to ensure that they get registered in a timely manner, said Pineiro.

Another unanticipated challenge was the need to move engagement and training opportunities to include more virtual options. But Pinero is confident in her team’s ability to make this necessary pivot.

“Overnight, we’ve had to reengage from a distance and we’ve had good success. We had to change the way we communicated with our work groups and the teams. Now, we’re looking forward to the fall. We are finalizing our approach, knowing that there will likely be new requirements going forward,” she said.

Including Clinical Staff

One casualty of the current COVID-19 crisis is the cessation of involvement from the clinical operations staff. Clinical operations play a critical role in content building of order sets, care planning, smart sets, etc. Going forward, operational staff also need to be actively involved in testing, as well.

But, Solverson believes that there is still time to reengage them so that their important input and involvement will be incorporated.

“There was an impact to the project to not have folks participate for a couple of months.

And folks need to remember that it still remains a top organizational priority to implement the Epic system. So, while we are going through some challenging times with COVID-19, financially and everything else, getting Epic up and running continues to remain a top organizational priority.”

Falmouth Hospital obstetrician and gynecologist Nisha David, MD used Epic in both medical school and residency, and confirmed the importance of clinical staff being involved in the project.

“Right now, in the build part, there are a lot of meetings we are being asked to go to. It’s really important to participate in this process and attend the meetings.  You’ll get more out of it in the end,” she said. “ And later on, take advantage of all of the training opportunities being offered. You do not want to be struggling on day one.”

The reward will be a more convenient system, with greater access to patient information and personalization based on your own practice pattern.

“It’s a great system, honestly. Convenience comes with having all of your records in one place. Now, when I have a patient in the hospital, I will be able to view their information without having to get out of one system and going into another. I will also be able to follow them if they were admitted to any of the other participating hospitals, even in Boston,” she said.

And it’s much more efficient being able to personalize your own templates and order sets.

“You will be able to do the same work faster, in my opinion, because you can configure it so much that each person can say, ‘This is the protocol that I prefer for my patient visits,’ and have it be saved. That way, when you see a new patient and you always order the same labs, it can be done automatically with a single click,” she said.

Cape Cod Healthcare breast surgeon Jill Oxley, MD has also used Epic in the past and is excited for it to be implemented at CCHC.

“What is nice about the Epic system is that the office chart is the same as the inpatient chart is the same as the imaging, OR schedule, etc. It’s all in one place,” she said.

And for patient care, there is a much easier way for specialists and primary care physicians to share notes.  Having all of this information in a single place makes it a lot easier to know what’s been going on with your patients, especially for visits to other clinicians, she said.

And, like any enterprise-wide project, what you put into it in the beginning will help determine how successfully you make the transition.

“It is a very steep long learning curve. But, the system is highly configurable so ideally we will make it work in our favor and the way we want it to. It will be nice to have all of the clinical information in one place,” Dr. Oxley said.