Date: April 11, 2012
Physician champions work to ensure Epic will meet clinical needs.
Marlis Gonzalez-Fernandez is a physiatrist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and director of the Ambulatory Quality and Safety Task Force at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. It’s those dual roles that have given her a foundation for her newest task—acting as an Epic physician champion for the department and leading the ambulatory quality and safety workgroup within the Epic physician champion council.
Gonzalez looks forward to serving as a bridge between Epic and her fellow doctors, and to providing input into building the system. She also is excited about the opportunities that the new electronic medical record will offer. “With Epic, we have the potential to revolutionize the way we care for patients,” she says. “Not only will it enable physicians from all disciplines to work better as a team in treating our patients, but it also will improve their safety.”
Over the next 18 months, Johns Hopkins Medicine is implementing Epic in ambulatory areas throughout the health system, as well as inpatient areas at Sibley Memorial and Howard County General Hospitals.
More than 60 physician champions from The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, Suburban Hospital and Johns Hopkins Community Physicians will help lead the design and configuration of Epic (Suburban will not be implementing it for a few years). The champions will ensure that the system meets the needs not just of their specialty, but also their organization.
Chosen for their respective experiences in medical informatics, emergency medicine, and in teaching in the ambulatory and critical care settings, and for their leadership of various initiatives, these physicians represent areas that are essential to a successful implementation of the new medical record, explains John Flynn, Epic medical director.
“Other groups involved with the Epic project—such as scheduling, registration, compliance, legal, regulatory and finance—are also working very hard and have representatives at the table,” Flynn notes, “but because we’re beginning with ambulatory first, that’s why you’re hearing more about the physician group now.”
Another role of the physician champion is to make sure that the concerns and opinions of their fellow colleagues are voiced to those who are making decisions.
“Many faculty members have a healthy skepticism of the Epic implementation,” Flynn says. “This concern arises from asking if Johns Hopkins can really adapt all of its workflow processes in the ambulatory arena to truly take advantage of what Epic offers.” And with the recent commencement of the specialty validation sessions—which give physicians, nurses and administrators the opportunity to collaboratively standardize these processes—Flynn feels confident they are moving in the right direction.