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It's LIVE: New EPIC electronic medical record system

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Greene County Medical Center spent the last weekend in March switching over to a new electronic medical records system, EPIC.  At 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 29, all systems were switched over.  While the switchover took place at a specific time, the actual changeover will take place with each patient registration or patient care incident.

The previous Paragon system records have been successfully transferred over and care received after the switchover will go directly to EPIC.

Discussion of the upgrade to the EPIC system resulted in the board of trustees approving the upgrade at their June 2013 meeting.  It was noted that upcoming and ongoing costs associated with the Paragon system made switching to EPIC right at this time.  Additionally, the medical center’s relationship with UnityPoint Health provided favorable pricing for several rural affiliates.

At the June 2013 board meeting, Chief Executive Officer Carl Behne told the board that this new system “would provide improved care coordination and better physician alignment and engagement.”  Chief Financial Officer Mark VanderLinden reported that the nearly $2 million EPIC price tag would be reimbursed up to a rate of 91%, an amount of approximately $1.365 million.

For the past eight months, numerous policies, procedures and processes were put into place to meet the many EPIC requirements.  Cindi Daubendiek, RN, served as program manager and clinic site coordinator for the roll-out.  She estimated that nearly 10,000 hours were spent on preparations and training for the project, including training of 204 employees and 47 providers who trained up to 40 hours each.

The IT department, under the direction of Roger Overby, has devoted nearly all of its staff and time to EPIC over the past few months.  Everything from coordinating equipment needs to installation has been a full time job for some in IT.

The project has required a tremendous effort by nearly every department in the medical center including the billing processes used for patients.  The switchover requires a transition from one billing system to another.  It is possible that patients will receive two separate billing statements – one for care received prior to April 1, 2014, and another one for care received after April 1.

For the next few weeks, an increased registration time may occur as registration gathers required verification of all patient information – including seeing a photo identification card and an insurance card.

Behne noted that “Ultimately, changes like this are made for the benefit of our patients. EPIC will provide many new benefits for our patients today and in the future.”

The changeover will provide unified patient care within the medical center and a seamless connection with other care providers, as many facilities and providers throughout the state and country use the EPIC system.

In the coming weeks and months the medical center will be focusing on the roll-out of MyUnityPoint — part of the system that allows patients to view their own medical center records online.  Patient portals like this are often renamed by medical facilities to align with care providers and facilities.  Greene County area residents are probably most familiar with the MyChart system used by McFarland Clinic’s Jefferson clinic.  The two systems, MyChart and MyUnityPoint, will be compatible for providers, but MyUnityPoint will only have records for care received at the medical center for patient viewing.

While all patient care areas of the medical center made the switch to EPIC in the past week, it won’t be until fall of 2014 that the Advanced Women’s Care and West Central Orthopedics clinics will be using the ambulatory portion of the system.