An Epic Transformation
Date: July 1, 2013
Converting nearly all of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s entities to the Epic electronic medical record system has been a journey akin to the system’s namesake.
Employees are both excited and a little nervous about the changeover to Epic, which will better integrate medical records across Johns Hopkins’ locations, improve patient care and safety, avoid redundant testing, and yield valuable data for research, says internist John Flynn, Epic medical director: “It is a huge change, and takes a significant amount of training. I do see it as transforming the culture.”
The transition is taking place in waves this spring and summer. On April 4, Epic went live at all of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians’ 35-plus locations throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., and the scheduling and registration processes were put onto the same platform. In mid-May, the ambulatory practices at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center as well as the Green Spring Station and White Marsh campuses started using Epic. Sibley Memorial Hospital and Howard County General Hospital will implement Epic in the beginning of June. The East Baltimore campus ambulatory practices will be added at the end of June, and all pediatric offices will have Epic by August.
Before this switch, patient information was stored in more than 200 systems, says Flynn, making it very challenging to develop a single standard of excellence, much less a cohesive approach to health care delivery. Epic offers significant advantages, including consolidated records and improved methods of communication, he says.
“Not only do you have all medical records and test information on one platform, but you can communicate within that platform,” he says. Notes made in a referred patient’s record, for example, will be available for all care providers to see within Epic. Previously, much of that information was sent via paper faxes.
Patients will have easy access to their personal health information through a feature called MyChart. Using a computer or mobile device, they will be able to see test results, schedule or view upcoming appointments, request prescription refills, pay bills online and fill out pre-visit questionnaires, among other options.
Finally, Epic allows for much easier, more comprehensive data collection to study outcomes or conduct research studies, allowing users to pull detailed data on the number of patients with diabetes, for example, within one business day. If a Johns Hopkins investigator is directing a clinical trial for a specific patient demographic, he or she can easily alert other physicians to refer their patients. And charts will signify if patients are participating in clinical trials.
Though still in early stages, the consolidated system already is demonstrating its worth, says Flynn. Johns Hopkins Bayview hospitalist Amy Knight reported to Flynn that for the first time, she was able to see all of one patient’s medical records together during a recent pre-op visit, making her job much easier. “Previously she would have had to query more than three systems to get that same information,” Flynn says.