Shepherd Center to Launch New Electronic Health Record System
Transition expected to enhance patient safety, collaboration and efficiency to meet patients’ unique needs across the continuum of care.
Shepherd Center will launch Epic, its new electronic health record system, on April 1, 2019 through a partnership with Piedmont Healthcare. Epic is a widely used health record system, providing an integrated technology platform for clinicians, patients and staff.
“Many patients treated at Shepherd Center are referred to us by healthcare providers who also use Epic as their electronic health record system,” said Michael Yochelson, M.D., MBA, chief medical officer at Shepherd Center. “When we start using the same system, clinicians will have access to more complete and accurate information about the care of these patients during their stay at Shepherd Center.”
Epic is used by clinicians at many of U.S. News and World Report’s top-ranked hospitals. The system allows them to work collaboratively to improve patient care, innovate healthcare delivery and achieve financial health. Nearly half of Georgians already have a record in Epic.
“The transition to Epic will allow for even better continuity and coordination of care, patient safety and enhanced quality of care overall,” said Sarah Morrison, PT, MBA, MHA, president and CEO of Shepherd Center. “This is vitally important given the complex nature of the conditions we treat at Shepherd Center and the need for a team-based approach across the continuum of care.”
Epic allows for improved provider-to-provider communication, consultation and care coordination, as well as the secure sharing of patient health information via Epic’s Care Everywhere feature. This feature enables clinicians to receive key health information during an admission, evaluation or follow-up visit, which is especially valuable as half of the patients who receive care at Shepherd Center come to Atlanta from outside of Georgia.
“With Care Everywhere, providers at Shepherd Center will see a patient’s full story, including allergies, medications, visits and conditions documented at outside healthcare institutions,” said Matt Doyle, Epic interoperability development lead. “The Care Everywhere community exchanges more than 3.6 million patient records daily between Epic, government agencies and other EHR systems, helping caregivers to provide better care for their patients.”
When a patient is discharged from Shepherd Center and returns home to receive follow-up care from medical providers in their community, clinicians who also use Epic will now be able to easily review documentation from a patient’s care at Shepherd. The new system will help to support an integrated and collaborative community of care for patients after they leave Shepherd Center, Dr. Yochelson added.
Shepherd Center’s Epic journey began in 2017 when it signed an agreement with Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare to join Piedmont’s Community Connect program. This partnership established the first hospital-to-hospital electronic health record (EHR) hosting arrangement on the Epic platform in Georgia. By bringing Shepherd Center onto Piedmont’s Epic EHR platform, patients will have a single medical record within Shepherd, Piedmont and other organizations who use Epic.
“It is an honor to support a strong partner like Shepherd Center in implementing Epic, helping them benefit from our lessons learned, sharing resources and ultimately creating a more effective and efficient EHR implementation,” said Leigh Hamby, M.D., chief medical officer for Piedmont Healthcare. “We are proud to be a part of offering Shepherd patients access to the top-rated product of its kind.”
Shepherd Center is connected physically to Piedmont Atlanta Hospital by an underground tunnel. With this agreement, Shepherd and Piedmont benefit from added information technology connectivity that will better integrate patient care between the two hospitals. More than 50 percent of Shepherd inpatients have surgical or other acute medical care procedures at Piedmont, and about 80 percent of Shepherd’s consulting physicians are affiliated with Piedmont.
“Piedmont Atlanta and Shepherd Center are already connected physically and share medical staff, as well as clinical space,” said Patrick Battey, M.D., CEO of Piedmont Atlanta Hospital. “By hosting Shepherd on Piedmont’s Epic platform, we will expand what is already a very strong partnership, enabling providers to better integrate clinical care, rounding out each organization’s suite of services and making care seamless for the patient.”
Although Piedmont Healthcare offers its patients a personal health information portal called MyChart, Shepherd Center will not promote the use of MyChart when Epic launches on April 1, 2019. Shepherd Center patients who are seen at a Piedmont facility or by a Piedmont provider will continue to be able to use MyChart for Piedmont episodes of care and providers, but they will not be able to use MyChart with Shepherd Center providers. However, in 2020, Shepherd Center expects to expand the use of MyChart for its patients. Using the MyChart website or smartphone app, patients and caregivers will be able to securely and easily access their health information, request prescription refills online, view test results and communicate with their providers.
“A large project team has been working diligently for more than a year now, preparing for the launch of Epic on April 1,” said Brian Barnette, CHCIO, CPHIMS, PMP, vice president and the chief information officer at Shepherd Center. “While the team is looking forward to completing the project in April, the reality is our journey with Epic is just beginning in April.
“We’ve said since the initiation of the project that this is an organizational project, not just an IT project,” Barnette said. “While the go-live is an important milestone in our journey, the real work of organizational adoption of the new capabilities in Epic will be an ongoing effort. A significant amount of time, energy, effort and dollars have been invested in this effort, but it will benefit our patients, their families and all the healthcare teams involved in the continuum of care for our patients for years to come.”
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 935 inpatients, 541 day program patients and more than 7,300 outpatients each year.