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UC San Diego, Irvine Health to Share Single Epic EHR Platform

UC San Diego Health has extended its Epic EHR platform to UC Irvine Health to save the academic health system time and money.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- University of California (UC) San Diego Health and University of California Irvine (UCI) Health recently formed a strategic partnership to share a single Epic EHR platform.

The academic health systems will share the Epic platform in an effort to increase operational efficiencies and cut costs.  The collaborative cloud-based EHR and data repository marks the first instance that a single Epic platform has been extended from one academic medical center to another.

“This groundbreaking collaboration aligns with the broader strategic goals of UC Health to share services and generate efficiencies across campuses through shared implementation and maintenance of technology platforms,” said UC San Diego Health CIO Christopher Longhurst, MD. “Through this process, we’ve aligned our clinical pathways and practices to leverage the best of both organizations.”

UCI started using UC San Diego’s Epic platform this month. UC San Diego has been using its Epic EHR since first implementing the system in August of 2005.

“By collaborating with UC San Diego, and leveraging its existing infrastructure, we have been able to avoid many of the start-up costs associated with implementing a new EMR application,” said UCI Health CIO Chuck Podesta. “We foresee that the partnership will not only enable better management of medical information but will better support joint research efforts.”

The shared platform integrates patient EHRs from UC San Diego and UCI Health to offer more comprehensive care for patients in Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties. By sharing a platform with UC San Diego Health, UCI cut the cost of implementation by an estimated 30 percent.

Additionally, by moving to a cloud-hosted environment, both organizations will be better positioned to meet industry standards required for securing patient protected health information (PHI).

“This collaboration is a good example of how two health systems can leverage shared Epic technology for greater efficiencies and services, while still maintaining their independent organizational identities,” said Epic President Carl Dvorak.

The UC San Diego and UCI collaboration is one example of a larger movement in healthcare termed “systemness.” UC San Diego Health defines systemness as the process of combining assets and services to provide better and more efficient healthcare.

“UC San Diego Health is always trying to modernize operations, so all clinicians can focus on what matters most — patient care,” said Longhurst. “This collaboration further proves our commitment to that goal. We expect to see increased opportunities for strategic innovation and scholarship, and to expand research, especially within population health.”

UC San Diego Health also shares its Epic platform with University of California Riverside (UCR) health clinics and community practice affiliates to provide cost savings and improved care coordination to UCR physicians.

The UCI Health EHR implementation took about 17 months to complete, according to Epic.

 Longhurst recently spoke to HealthITAnalytics.com about how health IT companies can overcome consistently low rates of end user satisfaction with EHR technology.

“It’s great to see that Epic is top in satisfaction,” Longhurst told journalists at Epic’s annual user group meeting. “But to be honest, that’s sort of like being ‘cream of the crap.’ One in three doctors is still dissatisfied.”

Dissatisfaction with EHR technology partly stems from healthcare’s generally slow pace of innovation compared to other, more digitized industries such as banking and insurance.

“Having spent a long time in Silicon Valley, I know that the IT experts there scoff at healthcare for being ten years behind the rest of the world,” he said.  “We are just starting to apply technologies to healthcare delivery that have been common in the consumer environment for five to ten years.”

Despite healthcare’s learning curve, health IT companies such as Epic continue to innovate for improved EHR access, health data exchange, and patient care delivery. 

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