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What Brigham & Women’s Epic Implementation Can Teach Us About Interoperability

Photo via Sherry Yates Young/Shutterstock.

Photo via Sherry Yates Young/Shutterstock.

On May 30, 2015, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Partners Home Care and Dana Farber Cancer Institute went live with Epic systems, in what was said to be the largest implementation in the EHR vendor’s history. Both clinical and revenue cycle systems were implemented on the same day, a task the company had never embarked on before. In 2012, Partners Healthcare chose Epic as their electronic health record system of choice and aims to implement it at each Partners entity by 2017. The Epic project, coined “Partners eCare,” is the largest project of its kind in Partners Healthcare history.

Partners’ decision to go with Epic has really been driven by one major goal: to get all their hospitals and health centers on one system. As Partners puts it, having one system “enables a seamless flow of clinical and administrative information about a patient anywhere within the Partners system.” The ultimate goal is to “improve coordination, reduce duplication of care, avoid unnecessary tests, and support our nation’s urgent healthcare quality and cost imperatives.”

Patients will no longer have to worry about carrying their EHR data with them when they see specialists and other providers or when receiving care for complicated illnesses or procedures. All of their information will live in one place and providers within the Partners network will be able to easily track and follow their patient’s care in real time. This accessibility will also help break down the infamous healthcare silos and allow clinicians to communicate critical patient care information with all members of the patients care team. This is a major win for the system and their continued efforts to improve care delivery and interoperability.

The major question busy clinicians ask themselves is, “How will this help us today and in the long-term?”  The immediate future is not a rosy picture since many view the implementation process as two steps back but eventually ten steps forward as it is a big investment in time, money and resources.  But in the long term, there are many benefits, one of the largest being research opportunities. Partners joins many other big names in healthcare such as Kaiser Permanente, Cleveland Clinic and John Hopkins, all of whom have or are in the process of implementing Epic at their institutions. Many experts believe that once institutions become better at capturing the data, the next step will be leveraging it for research opportunities

As with all other large implementations, change can be frustrating and difficult and can take months for workflows and processes to be finalized. But as these institutions wrap up their second week of going live, it seems that end users have come to accept that challenge with a smile and ever growing positive outlook.

Nina Jaklian

    Nina is an Epic-certified project analyst at Partners Healthcare and has been working on the Partners eCare initiative since it's inception. A native Bostonian, she is obsessed with the startup scene, all things innovation and of course, coffee.

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