A new electronic health records system is being implemented at the UVM Health Network, a consortium of hospitals in Vermont and northern New York. The goal is to improve communication and patient care throughout the hospital system.
On Saturday, the EPIC Electronic Health Records system will begin at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington, Vermont, Central Vermont Medical Center in Berlin, Vermont, Porter Medical Center in Middlebury, Vermont, and the CVPH Medical Center in Plattsburgh, New York.
On a conference announcing implementation of the project, UVM Health Network President and CEO Dr. John Brumsted said it allows the group of hospitals to seamlessly provide high quality care to patients. “This means that anywhere that an individual seeks care in anyone of our organizations with anyone of our providers that their information will be available at the stroke of a keyboard. And that replaces what we have now which is a patchwork quilt of different electronic health records that between organizations inhibits the flow of information.”
Chief Information Officer Dr. Adam Buckley says the goal is to have a single record for a patient regardless of where they seek care in the network. “Patients can move between facilities as their care is dictated. When they enter the portal all of their information will be there: all the labs, all their imaging, all their appointments. They’ll be able to make appointments, eventually pay co-pays. You’ll also be able to request refills on prescriptions.”
Emergency room physician and Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Doug Gentile says during the weekend of October 19th over 400 employees volunteered to convert into the new EPIC system any appointments and surgical cases that were scheduled in the legacy system. Since then schedulers and registration clerks have been using EPIC. Clinical and remaining operational staff will begin using the system on November 9th. “This project touches every single department in our organization and almost every job role across the network. We trained 13,000 people in 150 different job roles at 8 different locations. We also had to test every single device that integrates with EPIC. We had a team that’s gone out and physically touched over six thousand devices across this network to make sure that they’re going to work properly.”
Dr. Anna Hankins is a pediatrician at the Central Vermont Medical Center. She used the EPIC system when she previously worked in Wisconsin and is helping train UVM Health Network physicians. “I have a very personal reason to be excited for this project. I had a patient develop a very serious new medical condition for which she has had multiple hospitalizations and trying to make sure that physicians at UVM, physicians at the CVMC (Central Vermont Medical Center) Emergency Department and physicians at Dartmouth all know all of the information that they need has been very very difficult. And I can’t wait to have this child’s medical record all in one place and all of us to be able to seamlessly communicate about her care.”
It will cost $151.6 million over six years to implement the electronic health records system across four hospitals. It will be phased in through 2021.
The UVM Health Network’s other facilities, Home and Health Hospice, Alice Hyde Medical Center in Malone, New York and Elizabethtown Community Hospital, have not yet been added to the EPIC system. It is awaiting approval from the Green Mountain Care Board to include the New York facilities. Home Health and Hospice will join the system after the hospital affiliates.