Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

Mass. General Implements Epic EHR to Boost Interoperability

Partners HealthCare implemented the Epic EHR at several of its Boston hospitals to increase interoperability between its affiliates.

By Jacqueline LaPointe

As part of a $1.2 billion upgrade across the Partners HealthCare network, Massachusetts General Hospital to a new Epic EHR system to increase interoperability and health information exchange, according to a report in The Boston Globe.

MGH implemented the new system made by Epic Systems this past weekend. Approximately 2,300 individuals from Partners HealthCare and contractors worked to complete the upgrade at MGH, Newton-Wellesley Hospital, and Massachusetts Eye and Ear.

Last year, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Dana-Faber Cancer Institute, a Partners HealthCare associate, made the switch to the Epic EHR system.

Partners HealthCare plans to integrate all its affiliated healthcare organizations under one EHR system to increase care coordination and interoperability. Previously, affiliated healthcare organizations used a variety of different EHR systems that could not seamlessly communicate health information.

Other Massachusetts healthcare systems have also selected the Epic EHR services, including Boston Medical Center, Lahey Health, Southcoast Health System, and UMass Memorial Health Care.

“It’s a large cultural transformation,” said Dr. O’Neil Britton, CIO at Partners HealthCare. “It is the first time that all these organizations will be on the same record, which means a lot for our clinicians and our patients. This is the reason we embarked on this journey.”

Epic Systems recently received high scores for interoperability and health information exchange by a KLAS report, which compared EHR vendors in the healthcare industry.

However, The Boston Globe reported that Epic EHR systems are often criticized for making it difficult to share health information with different EHR systems. Other healthcare professionals also argue that the EHR implementation is too expensive.

Following the upgrade, business at MGH and other hospitals may be slower than usual. The former reduced its schedule this week to give hospital employees some extra time to learn and acclimate to the new EHR system.

Partners HealthCare and Epic anticipate hospital staff to experience some challenges. To assist with the transition, about 1,000 Epic employees will be coming to Boston over the next couple weeks to work with the hospitals.

Other healthcare organizations have experienced similar slowdowns. When Brigham and Women’s Hospital launched the Epic system last year, hospital employees reported 29,000 requests tech help requests in the first month alone, reported The Boston Globe.

As previously reported on EHRIntelligence.com, Brigham and Women’s Hospital also faced some financial losses after adopting the new EHR system. The EHR replacement was budgeted at $47 million, but the transition ended up costing the hospital $27 million more because of self-imposed reductions in patient volume.

The hospital reduced its patient volume to avoid potential medical and coding errors with the new system.

Epic acknowledged that recent financial losses are temporary and will be offset by long-term financial gains and bond ratings.




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