Epic: Abundant resources available to handle all go live queries
By Bruce Coleman
Epic team members have a last-minute request for University of Mississippi Health Care employees on the verge of the comprehensive electronic health records’ system-wide launch early Friday morning: Don’t panic.
After countless hours of planning and several weeks of training, Epic is finally upon us. But there is plenty of support available to help UMHC employees make the transition to the new system.
“There will be plenty of help,” said Ellen Swoger, chief applications officer. “The entire Division of Information Systems, including our systems, network, security, storage, strategists and support teams and all the different Epic application teams will be focused on making this go live as successful as possible.
“We understand that our end users’ worlds are getting turned upside down on Friday, but we’ve put a lot of resources in place to help them through this change.”
More than 800 support personnel, from DIS and Epic-trained hospital staff to representatives from other institutions that use the Epic system, will be on hand to help UMHC employees throughout the go live process. To help them be more visible to hospital staff, Epic super-users will wear bright red shirts while physician super-users will don bright green shirts.
Epic command centers will be set up in the LC Building on Lakeland Drive – the central hub for all go live calls where the majority of end-user issues will be handled – and in the DIS office space at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center – where most of the technical issues will be addressed. When needed, support in the form of special SWAT teams will be made available to address any urgent user issues immediately.
“If the command center receives an issue that is deemed major, such as something everybody in one area is experiencing at the same time, a SWAT team will be deployed to that area to address that issue right away,” said Dr. John Showalter, chief medical information officer. “The need for the SWAT teams will be determined by the super-users.
“All of this support will be in place for some time, not just during the go live date.”
The go live page on the Medical Center’s Epic website, epic.umhc.edu, will serve as another form of user support. Quick tips will be posted from the command center that will address larger issues as they arise. The site will allow employees to track the locations of super-users and track our progress with real-time post-go-live statistics.
Despite the impressive number of resources available throughout the go live period, Swoger urges UMHC employees to refer to their Epic training as the initial troubleshooting step for any situation.
“Should an issue arise, the normal progression for UMHC employees should be to refer to their training and check their e-learning tip sheets first,” Swoger said. “Then, if they are still having an issue after that, they should get in touch with a super-user.
“Super-users will escalate issues to the command center if they cannot be addressed on the floor.”
No matter how difficult the Epic transition may prove to be, Showalter said employees can remain optimistic if they focus on the reason why the institution is switching to the electronic health records system.
“To improve the workflows of our clinicians, which will ultimately improve the way they provide care for our patients,” Showalter said. “That’s really why we’re doing this. The system provides one record for their patients, and that record can be accessed wherever our clinicians happen to be.”
Epic: Understanding EHR
Communicating effectively with patients about what electronic health records are and how EHR affects them is critical to a successful Epic implementation.
The Medical Center’s Epic team has launched a full media campaign throughout UMHC, including flyers, posters and table tent cards, to do just that. But according to Nicholas Skinner, IT communications analyst, no health-care communications strategy is more successful than having health-care providers speak directly to the patients themselves.
UMHC employees should be prepared to answer a host of questions from patients, many of whom may not be up to speed on what electronic health records are.
Who can see my information? Is my information secure? What happens to my old paper charts?
You’ve been using computers for years – don’t you already have electronic health records?
“Patients will have plenty of questions, especially after they read the table tent cards and posters,” Skinner said. “They will have concerns about lost information, particularly in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s good to inform them that their information is stored in secure locations and backed up in secure locations, and fail-safes are in place to protect it.”
Easing some patients into the idea of EHR might require some skill. That’s why the Epic team has provided information on the UMHC website to help when more difficult questions arise.
“It may not be possible to answer all of the patients’ questions,” Skinner said, “but we do want to let the patients know that we will continue to look for ways to improve the system after it is up and running.”
An overview of EHR, a script for physicians to follow while speaking with patients, and much more information is available online at www.umhc.com/ehr..