Monday, August 06, 2018
by Alan Wesley
BJC | “Oh, how time flies!” said Michele Thomas, MD, BJC Medical Group chief medical information officer, as she wrote to staff reflecting on the past year.
On June 3, 2017, BJC Medical Group went live with Epic, BJC’s new electronic health record. Since then, eight BJC community hospitals, BJC Home Care Services, three academic hospitals and Washington University School of Medicine have implemented Epic.
On June 2, just one day short of a year after the BJC Medical Group go-live, BJC’s academic hospitals and WUSM went live in the largest go-live by far for BJC, involving 3,200 physicians and 15,000 staff. The academic go-live also introduced Washington University provider ambulatory practices to the same system and tools used by BJC Medical Group.
“The benefits of Epic have already been realized by our providers, staff and patients many times over,” Dr. Thomas says.
Along with progress, adjustments to Epic are still ongoing, says BJC Medical Group physician Sherry Shuman, MD, Barnes-Jewish Hospital rheumatologist.
“There are some things that are terrific,” Dr. Shuman says. “It’s wonderful to have all the information in one patient chart. If somebody has a complicated medical history, it’s much easier to share information back and forth through Epic.”
Dr. Shuman also likes MyChart, the patient portal within Epic that allows physicians and patients to communicate with each other. “It’s an easy way to exchange basic information,” she says.
There are other parts of Epic Dr. Shuman finds more difficult, such as following how long someone has been on a certain medication. “Keeping track of medications is difficult because Epic brings in medications from many sources, so I can’t always see a patient’s full medication history,” she says.
She does see Epic as an improvement for patients over previous systems. “When you have your cardiologist, rheumatologist, primary care physician and oncologist all on the same chart, that’s really going to improve the care you need,” she says.
Overall, she believes Epic will continue to evolve positively. “I think we are coming to the time when we will realize its full potential,” she says.
Other physicians have noted that the learning curve takes time, but the benefits are becoming more apparent as physicians and staff become more adept at using Epic.
Some of the benefits they list include the ability to follow patients with chronic conditions over time, the ease of following the patient between the physician office and hospital, and the fact that all inpatient and outpatient care is coordinated.
And, as Epic implementation has now come nearly full circle in terms of implementation, there’s another benefit: It’s much easier to follow patients through, and then after, their hospitalizations. With just one unified computer system, physicians and staff are now much more efficient in communicating with each other.
The year ahead
With the transition of BJC hospitals and Washington University provider ambulatory practices to Epic, the year ahead continues to be one of growth and learning for BJC Medical Group.
BJC Medical Group providers and staff will now fully implement Epic workflows and will no longer have to perform interim steps when working with other facilities.
“The addition of Washington University provider ambulatory practices also introduces a partnership between the two entities that allows them to share lessons learned and best practices established over the past year,” says Dr. Thomas. “Together, we are now at a new and exciting level of integrated care that benefits patients and caregivers alike.”
Tags : Epic
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