OKLAHOMA CITY – OU Medicine, Inc. and its academic partner, the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, have signed a contract with Epic as their new electronic health record (EHR) vendor, marking a five-year, nearly $200 million investment in patient care.
“The selection of Epic as our electronic health record vendor represents a significant milestone for OU Medicine and our strategic vision,” said President and CEO Chuck Spicer. “Epic will provide our healthcare professionals a single stop for clinical documentation across the clinic and hospital continuum and will give them the important tools they need to provide high-quality care to our patients.”
Selecting a new EHR is the latest achievement for OU Medicine, Inc. since it became a locally owned and operated nonprofit healthcare system on Feb. 1, 2018. OU Medicine healthcare professionals will be able to seamlessly communicate about patient care across clinics and hospitals. In particular, the new EHR will be adopted across the OU Medicine enterprise, facilitating communication with Stephenson Cancer Center and OU Physicians-Tulsa. Each patient’s treatment history, such as imaging and lab results, will be available to all, improving clinical insights and leading to enhanced and efficient care.
By fully integrating the clinical enterprise into one EHR, important patient information will be readily available, allowing OU Medicine to better serve patients, including those from rural Oklahoma who travel to the Oklahoma City metro to receive care. In essence, wherever patients go within OU Medicine, their health records will follow.
“This comprehensive EHR will optimize our ability to provide exceptional care for individual patients and our patient population at-large,” said Jason Sanders, M.D., MBA, Senior Vice President and Provost of the OU Health Sciences Center. “As a unified EHR, Epic will allow our healthcare professionals to deliver research-based care found nowhere else, including nationally recognized clinical trials.”
Healthcare systems and entities across the state and country using Epic, or other interoperable EHR systems, also will be able to communicate directly with OU Medicine. This ensures treatment histories are available to the healthcare team before patients walk through the door and allows for improved coordination of care.
As the comprehensive academic health system in Oklahoma with the state’s only Level 1 Trauma Center, OU Medicine provides quaternary care, a step beyond tertiary care, signifying highly specialized services and diagnostic and surgical procedures not offered anywhere else in the state. The EHR will facilitate a smooth transfer of information for patients coming into OU Medicine needing higher levels of care.
Epic provides many other tools, including MyChart, a user-friendly patient portal. From their phone or on the internet, patients can exchange messages with the care team, view notes from past visits, see lab results, schedule appointments, request prescription refills and more. They will also be able to participate in telehealth visits with their providers, making care more convenient and accessible.
Quality improvement initiatives can be conducted through the EHR, and clinical trial information is incorporated as well. OU Medicine healthcare teams can share information across clinical settings, effectively deploying OU Medicine best practices with partnering organizations.
Epic will also enrich the teaching mission of OU Medicine, allowing residents and medical and health professions students to build their clinical competencies while gaining EHR experience that will benefit their future careers.
“The Epic EHR is a tremendous opportunity for our trainees, as it will allow them to understand standardized best practices, clinical efficiencies and operational effectiveness,” said John Zubialde, M.D., Executive Dean of the OU College of Medicine. “The implementation of Epic not only puts the patient at the center of everything we do, but it serves an important role in our mission of educating skilled and effective physicians.”
The selection process for a new EHR began in August 2018 with requests for proposal aligned with 12 guiding principles of the healthcare enterprise. Seven vendor options were narrowed down to three and, after additional on-site demonstrations and customer interviews, two final candidate software partners were identified. The process was facilitated by OU Medicine healthcare providers, who ultimately made the final selection. In late 2019, the OU Board of Regents approved the recommendation of Epic, followed by approval on Feb. 3 by the OU Medicine, Inc. Board of Directors.
The implementation and training process for Epic requires a team of more than 100, including 60 additional people who will be hired. The new EHR is expected to “go live” in fall 2021.