Among the many: The Epic implementation will be carried out by 115 IT analysts: 80 from IT in northern Colorado and 35 from the University of Colorado Hospital. Among the northern IT employees are (from the left) Janet Anderson, Beth Lupien, Kris Tallis, Joni Schur, Kristi Lunsford, Graham Long, and Jamie Brooks.
By Gary Kimsey
It wasn’t quite a frenzied “get ready, get set, go” event, but the July 17 kickoff of the Epic conversion was a key turning point for electronic medical records at UCHealth in northern Colorado.
Held at Medical Center of the Rockies, the kickoff brought together the implementation project teams and key health system leaders, as well as IT representatives from the University of Colorado Hospital, which has nearly completed its Epic implementation.
Representatives from Epic gave presentations on what the software system is all about and how the implementation process will flow.
The implementation of Epic is a massive undertaking and will be a long journey, epic in scale and proportion. The system will be installed in stages, with the first stage to go live in July 2013.
“We have a lot to do before we begin training the staff,” says Eric Flemister, one of five project managers for Epic’s implementation. Training details will be published on VIC’s news page as the start date gets nearer.
For example, more than 160 meetings were scheduled over a two-day period after the Epic kickoff. The meetings are for Epic representatives to learn from future users in all areas of our system, Flemister says.
“That’s how Epic will find out about us,” he explains.
Once Epic’s research is completed -- and this effort may continue for a while beyond July 26 -- the company and the project team will develop a strategy for the needs of UCHealth's northern Colorado locations to integrate with the University of Colorado Hospital’s Epic version.
Then, meetings will be held from mid-September to late October so the Epic team can present functionality that is currently live at the University of Colorado Hospital. Part of the meetings will focus the best practice models for the areas that UCH may not use right now but will be needed here. The meetings will be structured so key contacts from PVH, MCR and other services will be able to walk through the draft Epic system and determine whether it will work for us or if some revisions are needed.
This is all part of Epic’s work process and the company’s best practice approach to system implementation.
“We’ve been impressed with how Epic is very much invested in helping their customers be successful,” Flemister says. “The company understands the concept that when its customers succeed, so does Epic.”
Flemister is responsible for inpatient implementation. The other project managers are April Charvat, for the team that will conduct training; Jeff Coburn, technical team; Jen Barna, revenue cycle team; and an as-of-yet named project manager for the ambulatory team.
Large work committee
The implementation project teams comprise one of the larger, if not the largest, working committee in the history of Poudre Valley Hospital, Medical Center of the Rockies and associated services.
The teams have 115 employees: 80 from IT in northern Colorado and 35 from the University of Colorado Hospital. The Denver analysts have valuable experience, having gone through an implementation process that started three years ago.
Team membes will be housed on the third floor of MCR’s north medical office building after construction is completed in early August to transform the empty shell into workspace.
Up to this point, the behind-the-scene action has heavily focused on training. During the last four months, 26 IT analysts from northern Colorado traveled to Epic’s Wisconsin headquarters to receive training and certification in Epic; another 23 are in training now.
Flemister says the training is intense. Becoming certified in each Epic application requires multiple trips to Wisconsin, proctored exams and projects that can take up to 80 hours to complete.
Coburn says one of the more important endeavors on the near horizon is identifying how well northern Colorado technology—existing hardware, computers, biomed devices, and other equipment—will interface with Epic as well as the University of Colorado Hospital’s Epic version.
“Most organizations start from scratch when they get into Epic,” he points out. “But the University of Colorado Hospital already has the system, so we have to determine how compatible the devices we have here will be with their system. So we need to fully understand what the University of Colorado Hospital Epic system does and how much of that will work here.”
Now, with the Epic kickoff behind us, the real work begins for the implementation teams and others in clinical and non-clinical areas throughout the health system who will be called upon for assistance and information.
Implementation will be done in phases. The first is to develop Epic for use in inpatient areas, expected to be completed by mid-summer 2013. Then the next step is to bring ambulatory areas online with Epic. A timeline has yet to be determined for that.
The journey to Epic is just that -- epic. It will be a long but worthwhile process: When complete, UCHealth's northern electronic medical system will be one of nation's and will provide a seamless path of care for patients throughout UCHealth regardless of whether they are in Denver, northern Colorado, Colorado Springs, or elsewhere.
Gary Kimsey works in marketing for UCHealth North and oversees Insider North.