Operations Teams Gather for Kickoff of Epic Program

Dr. Clay Dunagan addresses the audience at the Aug. 18 Epic kick-off event. | Photos by Jay Shelp

September 8, 2015 - When more than 440 individuals from across BJC and Washington University School of Medicine attended an Epic kick-off Aug. 18 at the Chase Park Plaza hotel in St. Louis, the sheer magnitude of the project was brought home to Tim Mislan, BSN, NEA-BC, Missouri Baptist Medical Center vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer.

“I was struck by the number of folks in the room and the variety of clinical staff — doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, dietitians, respiratory therapists, imaging specialists, lab staff,” he says, “all gathering for an ‘epic’ kick-off. I felt like all of BJC and WUSM were pulling together for the first time around a single mission.”

“The team did a fantastic job with the Epic implementation project kick-off meeting,” says Vamsi Narra, MD, Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital chief of radiology. “The meeting was well thought out and the information provided to the various participants was just perfect for a kick-off.”

After a social hour to meet other operations team members, Rich Liekweg, BJC executive vice president, began the meeting, followed by Jim Crane, MD, WUSM Faculty Practice Plan CEO. Additional presenters spoke of the efforts and decisions behind choosing Epic as the electronic medical record vendor, what’s ahead during implementation, and expectations of the operations groups (made up of ambulatory, anesthesia, cardiology, clinical documentation, ED, home health and hospice,

Rich Liekweg, BJC executive vice president, opens the Epic kick-off meeting at the Chase Park Plaza hotel. More than 440 people from across BJC and Washington University School of Medicine attended the event.

lab/pathology, nursing/allied health, ophthalmology, oncology, pharmacy/medication management, radiology, surgery, transplant, women and infants, health information management, registration/scheduling and professional billing).

Operations team members represent their specialty and are expected to communicate with their colleagues and solicit their feedback regularly regarding decisions being made during implementation of Epic. They will be involved in the three phases of the program — design, build, and training and deployment — providing support when the program goes live.

Carmen Bartolotta, RN, MSN, Missouri Baptist Sullivan Hospital chief nursing officer, was excited to see the commitment from leadership and physicians at the meeting. “It was good to hear the enthusiasm about the direction we’re taking from Rich Liekweg, Clay Dunagan and Jim Crane. I’ve been impressed with the direction the Epic team is taking us,” she says.

“The kick-off meeting was a great introduction to Epic and the numerous steps being taken by BJC and the medical school to ensure the best launch possible,” says Charles Goldfarb, MD, WUSM vice chair and chief of pediatric and adolescent orthopedics. “Epic is an incredibly important step forward for all of us in assuring the best possible patient care. While the task seems daunting, we have a great team assembled and everyone is committed to the goal of a successful implementation.”

What’s ahead with Epic? Design sessions will be held in September and October with operations group members and subject matter experts. During design, Epic will present proposed workflows, which are primarily derived from Epic’s Foundation System. The workflows will be demonstrated, and participants will have an opportunity to sign off on key decision points by holding up a green card to recommend the proposed workflow or by holding up a red card to raise a concern. This enables the participants to move quickly through decisions. Any “red card” issues will then be revisited at “reengineering sessions” to be held in October and November.

Next year will be the “build” phase of the project, with testing then beginning and continuing into 2018. The first go-live at a hospital is planned in 2017.

“The journey we’re embarking on is truly ‘epic,’” says Cathy Storey, MBA MT (ASCP), regional laboratory director for Alton Memorial and Christian Hospital-Northwest HealthCare laboratories. “I’m excited to participate and help build an accurate, user-friendly, utilization-focused ordering and electronic medical record system to help us care for our patients in the most efficient and accurate way.”

Visit http://epic.wusm.wustl.edu for more information about the Epic program.