Stay In the Know: Four Updates for Epic EHR Users

Recently, the 2018 UGM conference hosted over 10,000 attendees at the Epic headquarters in Verona, Wisconsin. Yet, amidst competing projects, optimizations and upgrades, many hospital leaders could not attend the full vendor conference. For those who could not attend or are simply looking for a quick recap for their IT teams, check out four conference themes.

  1. Voice-enabled workflow - Through the clinical documentation and barcode validation app Epic Rover, Epic EHR users can now use voice-enabled clinical workflows to conversationally access schedules, patient health data, medication lists and lab results. Epic's recent partnership with Nuance facilitates these capabilities as the next generation of conversational AI-powered virtual assistant solutions for the Epic community. Additionally, Epic Haiku users can now dictate notes for clinical documentation through Dragon Medical. As highlighted at the conference, over 100 health organizations currently rely on this form of data entry to simplify the clinical documentation process and improve patient visits.

  2. Global interoperability - During the CEO address, Judy Faulkner discussed how Epic's One Virtual System Worldwide is eliminating data silos from outside a healthcare organization in the next push for true interoperability. Incorporating data exchange beyond Epic customers, the program promises to enable clinical workflow access and action across the globe for improved clinical decision making and medical advances. UNC Health serves as a firsthand example of such an exchange. The health system has been using the program to pull data from other health systems for a more complete picture of patient care for better diabetes monitoring and treatment. Epic plans to take its global interoperability focus to the next level with its first non-Epic provider conference on September 26. The non-user group event will give a crash course on how to exchange health information with Epic-hosted providers, while discussing population health goals and interoperability success stories.

  3. Curbing physician burnout - One of the most resounding themes from the conference was alleviating physician EHR burden. Tired of the EHR being blamed for physician burnout, the UC Davis team utilized the Physician Efficiency Program (PEP), which complements Epic's Provider Efficiency Profile, to enhance physician EHR utilization and training. The PEP group visited clinics for three to six weeks, conducting one-on-one training sessions with individual physicians. During each session, they created plans for training and follow up. Along with clinic-wide "pep talks" to discuss common pain points, the PEP team helped with individual EHR concerns, like tutorials for placing orders more efficiently or setting up preference lists. As a result, participating physicians saw an average reduction of 25 hours per month per physician from after-hours EHR work and data entry. The PEP program shows that reducing physician "pajama time" and curbing end-user frustration relies on meaningful training and one-on-one support. What could you do with an extra 25 hours back each month?

  4. Upgrades - Finally, conference leaders reiterated the transition to the quarterly release cycle for upgrades. Those that occurred in August jumpstarted the push to combine new features with fixes as part of the Special Updates (SU) packages. For those not on v2018, Epic will still provide patient safety and regulatory SUs with the expectation that these organizations will catch up quickly. Within the executive address, Judy noted there will be more video and visual training, less documentation burden and more simplified non-techy overviews with the upgrade transition.

As you and your IT teams proactively push into the close of 2018, keep these UGM themes in mind for strategic planning. Check back with Stoltenberg throughout the next few months for continued coverage of upcoming health IT leadership and EHR vendor conferences.