Epic launches at Yale Health

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Photo by Yale Daily News .

While little looks different at Yale Health today, the electronic information system that records all patient information is brand new.

Today, Yale Health launches the electronic health records system (EHR) Epic — one of the nation’s most used electronic health record systems. Epic replaces Allscripts, another EHR which Yale Health has used for the past decade to record and store patient information. The transition will facilitate the flow of information among Yale Health, Yale Medical Group (YMG) and Yale New Haven Health System — which includes Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), Greenwich Hospital, Hartford Hospital and Northeast Medical Group. For those transported from Yale Health to another hospital in the system, Epic ensures that receiving physicians will have immediate access to their information.

“This is a giant leap forward,” said Paul Genecin, director of Yale Health, in a Friday email to the News.

In addition to coordinating records across the Yale systems, Epic brings numerous benefits to physicians. Under Allscripts, many departments at Yale Health, including emergency medicine, opthamology, and obstetrics, were left with paper records that had to be scanned and uploaded into the system. Epic allows physicians in these departments to digitally input the information.

The system is built to be intuitive, said Gary Friedlaender, the chief of orthopedics at YNHH. After a physician logs into Epic, the first screen that appears asks “why” the doctor is using the system. Epic centralizes many common tasks, such as calling other doctors, checking medications, sending prescriptions and scheduling patient visits, he said.

“All of that is going to happen while the three of us — me, the patient, and the computer — are in the room,” Friedlaender said.

The rollout of Epic means physicians have to adapt to the interface, and for the past few weeks, Epic staff members — donning purple shirts for easy identification — trained physicians at Yale Health to use the program, Genecin said.

As to how physicians have gotten used to using the new interface, Friedlaender said there is a generational difference in the ease of the transition.

“My grandchildren will have no trouble with this,” he said. “I sense that medical students and residents adapt to this far more easily than me.”

Christopher Bunick, a dermatologist at Yale Health, said in an email that although EHRs favor younger generations who have grown up in the midst of a wired world, Epic is still accessible for veteran physicians who have used such systems in the past. Genecin added that while the transition at Yale Health from paper records to EHR ten years ago was challenging, the movement from one electronic record system to another will be significantly less so.

In addition to the launch of Epic, today marks the start of MyChart, an online patient portal connected to Epic that replaces Yale Health Online. With MyChart, Yale Health patients will be able to request appointments and prescription renewals, in addition to seeing their test results, allergies and medications, Genecin wrote. Yale Health will soon begin an effort to sign up students on MyChart, he added.

The number of U.S. hospitals with an EHR system tripled from 2010 to 2012, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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