Epic Chosen as Electronic Medical Record Vendor

Employees from across BJC participated in product demonstration days in 2014. | Photo by Tim Mudrovic

March 24, 2015 - After a 12-month process that included surveys, demonstrations and site visits, BJC HealthCare and the Washington University Faculty Practice Plan have selected Epic as the single, integrated electronic medical record system for BJC hospitals, Washington University Physicians and BJC Medical Group.

For the first time, the process brought together clinicians, administrators and staff from all of the entities to work toward choosing one electronic medical record. More than 500 individuals participated, with many more detailing their needs and preferences through a survey.

“Our thorough selection process entailed product demonstrations, reaching out to colleagues and participating in clinical site visits,” says Cherodeep Goswami, project lead. “Our goal was to identify the functionality, research support capabilities and other attributes to meet our needs to provide high-quality care to our patients.”

Based on the criteria, the final selection was Epic, an integrated electronic health record system that incorporates clinical documentation from all areas of patient care into a single database. The integrated database will provide BJC and Washington University School of Medicine the opportunity to streamline the number of computer systems required to document care.

“For our clinicians, functionality was the dominant issue, and we are pleased to have identified a solution with the ability to support our physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other providers in the critical work of taking care of patients,” says Clay Dunagan, MD, BJC senior vice president and chief clinical officer, and professor of medicine, Washington University School of Medicine. “The assessment team should be commended for the diligence and thoroughness that was demonstrated throughout the lengthy selection process.”

Over the next few months, the core team will be working on a number of activities including:

  • Identifying areas of interest that will be included in the scope of the project
  • Defining a timeline for the project
  • Identifying governance structure and project team
  • Selecting a third-party planning partner
  • Hiring staff needed for the project

Pre-implementation activities have already begun to prepare for the complex process ahead. These include documenting inpatient clinical workflows across BJC hospitals.

A pre-implementation team, led by John Krettek, MD, BJC vice president for clinical improvement, was formedwith members from community hospital clinical workflow improvement (CWI) and clinical information system (CIS) teams; CWI/CIS at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital; and BJC information services. The team will work together across all of the community and academic hospitals.

“We’ve recruited professionals from Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals who know the COMPASS and KIDDOS systems,” Dr. Krettek explains. “Other experts from BJC clinical information services and clinicalworkflow improvement teams have supported the rollout of ECHOES at the community hospitals.

“It’s important to involve employees who are experienced with these legacy systems and can hit the ground running to accomplish a large amount of work in a short time period,” Dr. Krettek adds. The team began the work of gathering and cataloging data, processes and practices among all of the inpatient clinical documentation systems currently used at the community and academic medical center hospitals late last year. For this initial phase, ambulatory processes are not included.

Hiring is currently taking place for internal candidates to work on the multi-year project. Applications are open until April 3. 

“In the end, clinicians will be able to pull up a patient’s information no matter where they are across BJC,” says Goswami. “For example, patient A might see her BJC Medical Group physician for a routine checkup, and her doctor could see that she recently went to the emergency department at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and in the past was treated at Christian Hospital. It will help clinicians get a clearer picture of her health history.”

Goswami adds that moving to one core system will result in greater ease of use, better accuracy and timeliness, and the increased satisfaction of patients and clinicians, as patient information will be shared more easily, quickly and safely.