Another challenge was just the overall differences in the two versions of Epic, McCarthy says. For instance, something as basic as the tables which list the state from where the patient lives was different. They had to go through and make sure they mapped clinical equivalents between the two EMR systems. To do this, McCarthy says they used both IT and clinical team members.
All those who were involved with the Epic-to-Epic conversion convey the importance of having one “leadership voice,” on an extensive project such as this. According to Sura, when something touches the administrative, IT, and clinical side, everyone is bound to have an opinion. If issues arose, and they did, there was a clear path to figuring out a decision.
Those on the West Bend/St. Joseph’s side had grown accustomed to using their version of Epic, which was a lot more customized. Pushing the more standardized version of Epic, he says, wasn’t well received. And while there are still some clinicians from West Bend/St. Joseph’s who lament the loss of their customized EMR, Froedtert was able to get its standardization message across and get them involved with the data conversion.
While the process is still ongoing (manual abstraction will take a few more months to complete, says Sura), already the organization is reaping the benefits of one integrated system across the enterprise. For one, the large amount of patients that move between the various sites can now rely on one record. The providers that treat them don’t have to log into two instances of Epic to get the full picture. More than that though, DeGrand says the integrated EMR improves patient care.
“The perspective we take is that the more a physician can do while in the EMR, if we define the EMR to be a patient care tool, if they can do more within that without having to go out to another system or other data that resides elsewhere, the time they spend with the patient is just that much more effective,” DeGrand says.
“Yes it’s a convenience factor for the physician, but it’s also a quality of care for him and the patient. The patient isn’t left waiting for the physician to get to some results or get to an image. If we pull everything into one EMR, it’s just better for patient care,”