UVM Health Network Implements First Phase of Unified Electronic Health Record at Four Affiliate Hospitals
Project Designed to Improve Quality and Efficiency of Care for Patients and Providers
(BURLINGTON, VT) The first phase of a unified electronic health record system (EHR) across all affiliates of the University of Vermont Health Network rolled out over the weekend, a significant step that will enhance the delivery of high quality care in our region by providing instant access to a patient’s most up-to-date medical information.
“This is the right thing to do for our patients and families because it allows us to provide seamless care across multiple locations,” said John R. Brumsted, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the UVM Health Network. “It’s also a seminal moment for the University of Vermont Health Network, as patients at each affiliate involved will experience the positive effect of this unified medical record.”
The new system replaces a patchwork of software applications that are not fully integrated, both within and between hospitals, often a barrier to providing the highest quality and coordinated care when patients receive treatment in multiple care settings. The software was designed by Epic Systems Corporation, the most widely-used and comprehensive health records system in the U.S.
Hospitals participating in the first phase of the project include the University of Vermont Medical Center, Central Vermont Medical Center, Porter Medical Center and Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital. It’s expected that the UVM Health Network’s other affiliates – Alice Hyde Medical Center, Elizabethtown Community Hospital and Home Health & Hospice – will move to Epic in the coming years.
“Our patients are going to see clear benefits as they go between hospitals, primary care providers and specialists, as their providers will have instant access to their full patient records rather than portions that we have been able to share electronically in the past, or had to print off and send in person,” said Dr. Fred Kniffin, interim president of Porter Medical Center.
“This project will be transformational for our patients and health care delivery in our region, and we simply would not have been able to implement this new system at Porter without being part of the UVM Health Network,” Kniffin said.
In this first phase of implementation for these four hospitals, UVM Medical Center launched additional clinical and administrative capabilities for inpatient and outpatient settings, including clinical care, billing, registration and scheduling. Central Vermont Medical Center, Porter Medical Center and Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital have now begun using clinical, scheduling, registration and billing functions for outpatient care. They will begin using inpatient capabilities in the coming two years.
To prepare for the official “go-live” date on November 9, more than 13,000 UVM Health Network employees and 650 non-employee users received training. Hospital leaders from all departments participated in a command center beginning early Saturday morning to ensure a successful transition and support for staff.
Anna Hankins, MD, Pediatrician at Central Vermont Medical Center, said she has been looking forward to the upgrade. “I used Epic for ten years before coming to CVMC and loved it,” she said. “Using the same electronic health record will give providers a complete picture of the care our patients receive throughout the UVM Health Network.”
Key benefits of Epic include:
• Replacing a patchwork of outdated computer programs that do not communicate.
• The ability for patients to schedule appointments, check lab and test results online, request prescription refills, and more through MyChart.
• Timely, efficient and accurate information sharing among providers.
• Improved information security and patient privacy.
• Supporting the transition to population health management in Vermont and New York.
• Enabling providers to coordinate care and more accurately measure outcomes.
• Improving the ability to support patients of all genders and sexual orientations by ensuring their gender identity and pronouns are reflected across the electronic medical record.
The $151.7 million, six-year project was approved by the State of Vermont in 2018. UVM Health Network officials estimate installing Epic instead of replacing and maintaining the outdated programs saved up to $50 million.
Previously, the network hospitals used several disparate and incompatible legacy EHR systems, some of which are more than 20 years old, to manage patient records. Deficiencies in those systems and their incompatibility caused disruptions for patients and providers. When the system went live, more than 50 disparate software applications were no longer needed.
“This has taken years of careful planning and required countless hours of staff and leadership time to train, prepare and implement,” said Wouter Rietsema, MD, Vice President, Population Health and Information Services at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital.
“Having a unified electronic health record across our Network is absolutely foundational to providing great care,” said Adam Buckley, M.D., chief information officer, UVM Health Network.
“At its core, this is not an IT project. It is a patient empowerment and provider resource project that will dramatically improve the experience of delivering and receiving care.”
“Replacing older programs with one integrated system means that our lab, pharmacy, diagnostic, procedural, perioperative and other areas will all be on the same system,” said Peg Gagne, UVM Medical Center Interim Chief Nursing Officer. “It will be easier and more efficient to follow the patient’s experience from admission to discharge, ultimately supporting better patient care.”
A number of safeguards are built into the project to ensure its successful completion, such as the use of a nationally recognized expert with experience in overseeing projects of this magnitude, a phased implementation to reduce cost and allow for regular assessment on progress, and regular reports to the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB).