HHS to go live with patient-empowered EMR
May 4, 2022
HAMILTON, Ont. – In June, Hamilton Health Sciences is introducing its new Epic hospital information system. The electronic solution will make patient records available to clinicians in a centralized location, reducing the need to call up different applications. Moreover, patients will have access to their medical information – including test results, lab results and much more – through the Epic MyChart app.
“Our Vision is to provide ‘Best Care for All’,” says Filomena Canci (pictured), HHS’ chief nursing information officer and one of the leaders working to bring Epic to the hospital. “Not only will Epic improve clinical care delivery and enhance patient experience, it will also help us innovate and remain at the forefront of health care in Canada.”
Epic replaces the current health information system, made up of multiple electronic and paper-based systems containing different parts of a patient’s record. It can be difficult for hospital staff, doctors and other healthcare providers to pull together full patient records with the current system.
Using the Epic MyChart app, patients will also be able to read discharge summaries and consultation notes as well as an after-visit summary document which notes medication changes, orders placed during their hospital visit and any instructions or education provided during their visit.
Patients can share records with their doctors and caregivers, enter their own health information within a secure personal health record space, access health education materials and securely communicate with healthcare providers.
Other features include virtual visits through video conferencing and the ability to upload pictures of, for example, a rash or wound, to help with assessing and monitoring care.
Additional feature of HHS’s Epic MyChart app:
- eCheck-in: This allows patients to update information such as an address or contact info, medications, allergies, health coverage, and complete questionnaires prior to their HHS appointment. The purpose is to shorten the length of time a patient is at registration.
- Video Visits: Scheduled video visits with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals already take place across HHS – MyChart will make it even easier, with all the info and access in one place, no other online tools required.
- Notes and Results: Patients can view test results and medical notes from their healthcare team. See your medications, test results, lab results and medical notes. Test and lab results include CT scans, MRIs, x-rays, ultrasounds, echocardiograms, pathology results and lab results such as blood work and COVID testing.
- Questionnaires: Patients can complete questionnaires within MyChart. These questionnaires could be attached to eCheck-in for certain visits or sent in messages from the care team to patients.
- Patient-Entered Flowsheets: With these forms, patients can enter medical data, like a blood pressure or blood sugar. The data can be trended over time and can be included in their chart. Abnormal readings can also trigger a message to the healthcare provider to follow-up with the patient.
- Billing Summary and Details: Patients can pay outstanding balances via MyChart and see details of previously paid bills.
Also available for patients of some clinics:
- Direct Scheduling: This allows certain clinic patients to schedule appointments with a healthcare provider they already have a relationship with.
- Appointment Requests: Certain clinic patients can send appointment request messages to healthcare providers they already have an existing relationship with. They can explain why they want an appointment and their preferred availability.
- Direct Messaging: This lets certain clinic patients send messages to their healthcare providers regarding their medical care or test results. Patients must already have a pre-existing relationship with the person they are messaging in order to reach out this way. Patients will also be able to message about issues not directly related to their medical issue such as billing queries, compliments, complaints and web issues.
With Epic, healthcare providers will understand where a patient has been, and where they’re going in their care journey.
HHS’ current hospital information system is comprised of multiple systems, all containing different parts of a patient’s record. One of the biggest advantages of Epic is its promise of “one patient, one record”, which means that, no matter where a patient is in the hospital, staff and providers will be able to view their full medical history in one unified system. Patients will also be able to update parts of their health record on their own (like medications and allergies) using an app called MyChart.
With Epic, patients won’t have to worry about remembering every detail of their medical history, and providers and staff will be able to make more informed decisions about their care. Using one system across HHS will also dramatically reduce the amount of time providers and staff spend searching for information, enabling them to spend more time listening to patients’ concerns and providing care.
In addition to centralizing most patient records, a major benefit to clinicians seeking information about their patients, the Epic solution will also provide other advantages for healthcare professionals:
Medical professionals are notorious for having hard-to-read handwriting, which can infrequently lead to misunderstandings and errors. For example, misreading a note in a patient’s chart might lead to a wrong dosage of medication.
With Epic, staff and providers will use mobile phones, tables and workstations-on-wheels to update patient information electronically, significantly reducing the chance for errors and patient harm.
A challenge for many patients occurs when they leave the hospital and return to their primary care physician or another external health care provider for care. External providers often need access to a patient’s record to continue providing care, and requesting this information from the hospital can cause unnecessary delays or put pressure on the patient to keep track of everything on their own.
An application called EpicCare Link will make it possible for select external organizations to securely access a patient’s chart, schedule appointments, place orders, communicate with the patient’s hospital care team, and more. This will enable better communication and more effective collaboration between care teams within and outside HHS, improving the patient experience overall.
Over the course of the pandemic, virtual care – including medical appointments by phone or video conferencing – increased by 1,500 per cent at HHS, and it’s unlikely that demand will decrease in the future. Virtual care offers a convenient, accessible alternative for appointments that do not require patients to visit the hospital, and it will be part of HHS’ Epic system.
Staying connected to patients using Epic’s virtual care tools has been shown to reduce unplanned emergency department visits and admissions because providers and staff can proactively monitor patients’ symptoms, medications and progress remotely, and check in using secure messaging and video calls. Post go-live, HHS will explore additional features within MyChart that patients can use to send messages and photos to their care team when they have questions or concerns.
Work is well underway to transform HHS into an Epic hospital in June 2022, and providers, staff and patients all have a role to play. Stay up to date by visiting the Project Odyssey page of HHS.