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MVHS launches system-wide electronic health records

By Eric ‰Reinhardt


With its launch of the Epic electronic health-record system, Mohawk Valley Health System has established an Epic command center with Epic officials and MVHS staff members providing support for the system. (PHOTO CREDIT: Mohawk Valley Health System)

UTICA — Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS) on June 29 launched Epic, a new electronic health record (EHR) system, representing the first time that the organization’s two hospitals and physician practices will record patient health data on the same platform. 

The two hospitals are St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare in Utica.

MVHS previously used five different systems in its facilities. The organization called it a “momentous step in improving and supporting patient quality and safety and outcomes at MVHS,” per a July 2 news release.

“I’ll state the obvious: St. Elizabeth Medical Center and Faxton St. Luke’s Healthcare have been operating on different medical-record platforms,” Darlene Stromstad, president and CEO of MVHS, said. “We couldn’t share real-time patient records even though patients may be seen on both campuses. The advantages are immediate.” 

The Epic implementation process has included about 127,000 training hours over the past year for a number of physicians, nurses, pharmacists, support and financial teams.

“We implemented this major change in a little over a year,” said Stromstad. “More than 90 million records were successfully transferred to Epic from the legacy medical record systems. Staff also manually rescheduled 120,000 appointments from the old systems to Epic over the Father’s Day weekend. This is truly a remarkable feat — it takes most organizations more than two years.”

Dr. Paul Davidson, MVHS chief medical information officer, along with John Lynch, MVHS chief information officer (CIO), led the efforts for the Epic implementation. 

“Changing the way we work every day can be a challenge to providers, particularly physicians who are not used to this technology,” Davidson said. “However, we’ve been very pleased with how they’ve approached the training and came in with the attitude that this is the future, and they’ll make it work. It will take a few months, but it will become second-hand for everyone.”

MVHS providers can now coordinate care more efficiently with health-care providers outside of the health system while accessing “real-time” data and a comprehensive view of patients’ information, Lynch said, which will help close care gaps and reduce duplication. 

Patients will also have “increased” visibility and access for managing their health information using Epic’s online portal, MyChart, MVHS said. 

Patients can “easily and securely” communicate with their providers, view their health history and past visit information, schedule appointments, request prescription refills, and pay their bills.

“MyChart is an important tool for patients, giving them control over their health information and becoming an engaged member of their care team,” said Lynch.

Patients can also access the portal via the MyChart mobile application, available in the app stores. 

With the launch of the Epic EHR, MVHS also has a command center in which about 100 people field phone calls and provide technical support to users and address issues in real-time, per the release.

Deployed across CNY

Epic is the “most widely-used” health-record system, MVHS said. It’s used by the “majority” of U.S. News and World Report’s top-ranked hospitals and medical schools. 

More than 60 percent of New Yorkers currently have a record in Epic, per the news release. MVHS peers, including St. Joseph’s Health Hospital and Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse; Bassett Healthcare Network in Cooperstown; and Rochester Regional Health and University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester are also using the Epic EHR. 

All organizations using Epic can interoperate, or “easily exchange patient data for improved patient care.”     

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