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Oregon Health System Preps for Epic EHR Implementation

St. Charles Health System has chosen EHR replacement and Epic Systems as its EHR vendor.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

St. Charles Health System in Oregon only recently decided in favor of an EHR replacement that will its Paragon EHR from McKesson make way for an Epic EHR implementation, but the health system is already looking to add 100 new Epic analyst positions across its network.

Tara Bannow of The Bulletin reports that most of the hires for the new Epic EHR­â€‘related positions will be internal although the opportunity is likely to arise for external candidates as well by the September 1 hiring goal.

The health system has placed strong emphasis on clinicians fulling those roles in order to ensure that the 2018 Epic EHR go-live is well informed by providers and their workflows.

“They would be successful because those folks really know the workflow that goes into caring for the patients,” St. Charles Epic Project Director Chad Cagnolatii told the news outlet.

The health system headquartered in Bend comprises four hospitals, two physician groups, six imaging centers, three home health agencies, two hospices, and two skilled nursing facilities, according to Definitive Healthcare.

The health system has achieved high marks as System III integrated delivery network with superior performance in categories such as net patient revenue growth, net operating profit margin, and inpatient and outpatient market share.

From a technological standpoint, the health system includes both successful meaningful users (all four hospitals have demonstrated meaningful use) and accountable care organizations (ACOs) and maintains an estimated IT capital budget of $4.50 million. The health system’s estimated operating budget is reported to be nearly twice as large at $8.59 million.

Bearing these facts and figures in mind, the choice of an Epic EHR implementation appears to be the recent result of a change of heart following an important leadership change atop St. Charles Health System.

As of this time last year, leadership from the health system was adamant that the latter would not be undergoing another EHR replacement project despite physician dissatisfaction with their current EHR platform. In a February 2015 article in The Bulletin, Barrow reported that St. Charles had made two EHR switches and an internal evaluation of its EHR system, Paragon, but February of last year.

“It’s actually almost harder to switch EMR vendors than it is to start from paper to electronic transition,” CMIO Mary Dallas, MD, said at the time and who was also vocal about the negative effects associated with the myriad EHR technologies in operation throughout Oregon.

However, the hiring of CEO Joe Sluka and CIO Jeremiah Brickhouse has led the health system to unveiling its decision to select Epic EHR technology, the fourth EHR change for the Oregon health system. According to The Bulletin, the physician team gave 100-percent support for choosing Epic EHR technology.

“The CEO likes making decisions based on data,” Brickhouse explained. “Having good information, good analytics is key to that. So one of the first things he wanted to look at was our information systems, which kind of drove this discussion.”

Specifics about the Epic EHR replacement project at St. Charles are scarce. The timeline is likely to span five years, a plan which its board is slated to vote on this June.

The driving force behind the proposed Epic implementation is integration, consolidating the several EHR platforms currently in use across the health system into one single platform.

It’s going to be a single, unified database,” Brickhouse said. “It’s going to improve efficiencies.” Those efficiencies should come in the form of streamlined billing and improved patient access to health information.

The health system is banking on its Epic analysts to lead the way in EHR implementation and training exercises throughout the organization — clinic, billing, administrative — to ensure a smooth transition to the new EHR platform that has already proved beneficial to nearby Oregon health systems and hospitals. And it goes to show how important preparation is to a successful Epic EHR rollout.




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