04 Apr Health District launches new Epic electronic health record
On April 7, Harney County Health District made the transition to a new electronic health record (EHR) called Epic. After nearly two years of planning, building, testing, and training, a single comprehensive patient record system was put in place across Harney District Hospital (HDH), HDH Family Care, and St. Charles Health System. This marks the first time that all of the Health District will be on the same system.
“Switching to Epic creates one seamless, integrated record whether our patients are being treated at HDH, HDH Family Care clinic, or one of our outpatient departments,” said Health District Chief Executive Officer Dan Grigg. “This will greatly improve communication among our caregivers and offer our patients secure access to all of their health records online. Epic’s online patient portal, MyChart, will make it easier for patients to request appointments and prescription renewals, and to communicate with their provider.”
The road to this transition began in 2016, when St. Charles announced that it was moving to a new EHR. The driving force behind the decision was to consolidate the several EHR platforms currently in use across the Central Oregon health system into one single platform. In doing so, St. Charles would be leaving behind Paragon, the system HDH was using in partnership with them. After an extensive assessment and selection process, St. Charles chose Epic. The software company is based out of Wisconsin and provides EHRs to all types of health care organizations around the United States and the world. It is one of the most commonly used EHRs in Oregon and nationwide. In total, 200 million patients have a current electronic record in Epic.
The Health District was faced with deciding whether to move to Epic, continue with the current systems, or choose a new system entirely. The board selected the first option. Through Epic’s Community Connect program, St. Charles was able to offer the EHR as part of its own implementation, making it financially accessible to the Health District. Grigg noted that St. Charles has been very flexible and helpful during the implementation process.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer one of the best electronic health records on the market to our patients here in Harney County,” said Grigg.
HDH provider Dr. Eva McCarthy said she sees the move as a great benefit, explaining that Epic’s framework for interoperability, Care Everywhere, allows providers to access their patients’ health information captured at other organizations that use Epic or other EHRs:
“The switch over to Epic will allow us to more easily track and monitor preventative care services, streamline transfers and services between us and St. Charles, as well as access patient medical information from other hospitals through Care Everywhere,” McCarthy explained. “It also implements the most recent evidence-based standards of care to ensure that we are delivering up-to-date medical services to our community.”
All Health District caregivers were thoroughly trained, but patience is appreciated as they become accustomed to the software. In the short term, patient visits may take a little longer, but patients can be assured that caregivers are working hard to ensure information is captured correctly so they can provide the highest quality care.