Epic Streamlines Patient Care at Mayo Clinic

MARCH 20, 2018
Caitlyn Bahrenburg
With the ongoing rollout of Mayo Clinic’s new electronic health record (EHR) system, Epic, the hospital continues to build on its commitment to integrated care that patients have come to expect.

Known within the Mayo Clinic community as the Plummer Project—named for Henry Plummer, MD, a physician from Mayo Clinic who created the world’s first single-patient health record—Epic replaces the 3 EHR systems formerly in use at all Mayo Clinic campuses with a single, integrated EHR and billing system.

“This project builds on the health care innovations and teamwork that have enabled Mayo Clinic to improve and save lives unlike anywhere else,” Christopher Ross, chief information officer at Mayo Clinic, told MD Magazine.

“By applying the world’s most forward-thinking technology and processes to our EHRs and collaborative care systems, our experts will be even more connected in delivering the high-value care, research, and education that Mayo is known for and patients deserve,” Ross added.

The move to Epic is part of a $1.5 billion investment to augment technology across all Mayo Clinic hospitals and clinics.

“This is one of the largest projects in Mayo Clinic history. It is quite complex and spans several years,” Steve Peters, MD, the vice medical information officer at Mayo Clinic and cochair of the Plummer Project, said. “Once Epic has been implemented at all Mayo Clinic sites in October 2018, we expect this single, integrated EHR and revenue cycle management system to better serve our patients. With our staff working together on a common system, we will be able to provide a better experience for patients.”

By streamlining and centralizing patient information, Epic allows health care providers across all departments and Mayo Clinic campuses to easily access pertinent patient information—including medications, allergies, immunizations, lab results, and health histories.

“This system enables us to build on our foundation of integrated, consistent, knowledge-driven care. This project advances the integration of our practice and delivery of our care to patients,” Peters said.

The system switch will affect essentially all the staff at Mayo Clinic in some way, Peters noted, in addition to allowing the institution’s physicians and medical staff to streamline communication in various ways.

“Surgeons will be able to manage consultations easily regardless of where the patient is in the hospital. This reduces the time spent searching for charts. Therapists’ flow sheets, which handle complicated or lengthy assessment tools, will be standardized. This will give therapists more time to work directly with patients,” Peters said. “Radiologists will be able to quickly see all the patient’s information within the chart, which improves the reading workflow. Radiologists also can look back at study notes. Physicians can electronically access patient records from other health systems, with patient consent, using Epic Care Everywhere.”

Mayo Clinic began using EHR systems in 1994 with the first digitization of a paper note.
Since the implementation of its first digital system, Peters said, Mayo Clinic has remained steadfast in its commitment to bringing the best it has to offer to patient care.
Epic, Peters said, is the next step in honoring that commitment.

“We are converging on a common set of tools to bring the best of Mayo Clinic to benefit all patients at all sites,” he said.

“We will also advance what we do with revenue cycle management to make bills easier for patients to understand and to address reimbursement changes as we move from fee-for-service to value. Our focus is on sharing information with patients and sharing information across our sites,” Peters added.

Epic was first implemented at the Mayo Clinic Health System in Wisconsin on July 8, 2017, replacing Cerner and GE systems and the McKesson Revenue Cycle support system. “Epic, Cerner, GE Centricity, and McKesson are all top-of-the-line systems and have been valued vendors,” Peters said.

Peters noted that the Epic system used by Mayo is specific to the clinic, built to meet the needs of the clinic’s patients and staff. “The consensus is that Epic best meets Mayo’s needs now and [will do so] into the future,” he said.

Epic was later rolled out at the Minnesota campus on November 4, 2017, Peters said, and is now in use at 18 Mayo Clinic hospitals and 60 clinics.

“We have received notes from staff now working in the new system about how they see benefits for their patients and improved efficiencies. We are very excited and pleased with how well the implementations are going,” Peters said. “These implementations gave us many lessons, especially around readiness for change, training, and availability of ‘super users’ and ‘at-the-elbow’ support. The organization took these lessons and applied them to result in meaningful and measurable change.”
Mayo Clinic’s investment in Epic appears to already be paying off. After only 6 months in use, Peters said, Epic has already made workflows faster, eliminated redundancy, and allowed providers to focus more on patient care.

“This required an amazing orchestration of change implemented from numerous levels—enterprise, system, regional, and local,” Peters said.

Over the past 2½ years, thousands of Mayo Clinic staff members have been involved in planning, building, and testing the new system to ensure a seamless transition, Peters acknowledged. “Mayo Clinic is incredibly committed to making this transition to Epic successful. We will work together as a team to learn and implement this powerful tool,” he said.

Having proved the efficacy of the new system, Mayo Clinic now plans to implement Epic at the Rochester, Minnesota, campus on May 5, with additional rollouts planned for campuses in Florida and Arizona on October 6.

“We visited many other academic medical centers and learned from Epic and our advisory firm, Deloitte Consulting, about the best order for rollout of these systems to manage risk, cost, and speed,” Peters said. “Mayo Clinic Health System sites were first in order to implement the key parts of the system and learn lessons for improvement before taking on the very significant complexity of the Rochester campus.”

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