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Harrison begins transition to new e-records system

With Harrison Medical Center’s affiliation with Franciscan Health System completed, one of the changes Harrison is making is to its electronic health records system. Harrison will be switching to Epic, an EHR vendor that Franciscan began using last year.

Franciscan began the transition to Epic last summer, and the completed phases include St. Anthony Hospital among other facilities. Work on the Harrison transition also has begun, but the implementation will be done in one phase instead and the new system is expected to go live in July.

Franciscan’s chief nursing officer, Laurie Brown, said the organization had been using a different EHR vendor but decided to switch because Epic offers better options. It’s also widely used by many health-care providers in the Northwest.

“It helps us improve quality, improve the patient experience and reduce costs,” she said.

Harrison started its move to electronic records more than four years ago, a $30.5 million project that took several stages. The current software doesn’t integrate the data from different modules, however, instead is allows the modules to interface. For example, imaging and labs may be in one system while inpatient data or billing in another.

“Epic is much smoother and there’s no need to log into a new system each time or wait for data to transfer,” said Adar Palis, Harrison’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

The move to a new system would be different than the move from paper to electronic records, he said, especially since Harrison is not building a system from scratch. Catholic Health Initiative, Franciscan’s parent organization, is investing $150 million into Epic, including the costs for implementation at Harrison.

“One of the advantages of our affiliation with Franciscan is that Epic is not something we would be able to implement on our own,” Palis said.

Patients will notice one big difference once the system is in place at Harrison: They’ll be able to access their charts online and see much of the same information the doctor has. Called MyChart, the system allows for secure access to lab results, appointment scheduling and other functions. Eventually, Franciscan also plans to use Epic’s mobile app.

As part of its original EHR implementation, Harrison extended the infrastructure and support to providers from the community who didn’t have their own electronic records. Palis said that program will transition to a local company for support. Once Franciscan completes its core systemwide implementation of Epic, it would look at a similar program for community partners, Brown said.

Brown said Franciscan has received positive feedback both from providers and patients after switching to Epic. Patients like using MyChart and physicians and staff like the faster access and more detailed information.

“It does take some time to adjust to a different workflow, but I think everyone can see the potential and embraces it,” Brown said. “They are impressed with the ability to see all the information and have access at their fingertips.”

 
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