Epic is coming to UMass Memorial

Also expect virtual doc visits by 2016 for common ailments
By Bernie Monegain
10:42 AM
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UMass Memorial Medical Center

UMass Memorial Healthcare will be rolling out an Epic EHR system to replace its Soarian EHR from Siemens, which is now part of Cerner. There was no formal announcement. "Epic is coming," UMass Memorial President and CEO Eric Dickson, MD, wrote in a July 20 blog posted on the hospital's website.

"Today I signed one of the most important contracts I have signed since becoming CEO two-and-a-half years ago," Dickson wrote. "I signed the contract to install Epic as our enterprise-wide electronic health record and billing system! Why Epic? It basically came down to one thing: Hundreds of our caregivers tested the options available to us, and they resoundingly selected Epic as the best system."

UMass Memorial is the largest not-for-profit healthcare system in Central Massachusetts with more than 12,900 employees and 1,670 physicians.

CIO Tim Tarnowski and his team worked closely with a task force headed by Bill Corbett, MD, and Matthias Waltz, MD, during the evaluation of potential software solutions, Dickson wrote. The task force ranked Epic highest on important evaluation criteria.

On the same day Dickson announced the Epic move, UMass Memorial also introduced virtual physician visits for diagnosis and treatment of common health concerns.

The hospital has partnered with Zipnosis, a Minneapolis-based company, to provide an online diagnosis and treatment service that will connect patients to UMass Memorial clinicians online to receive care for common medical conditions, such as sinus infections, colds and flu, female bladder infections and pink eye.

Starting this coming October any of UMass Memorial Health Care's 12,900 employees who have a UMass Memorial provider will be able to use the new service.

The healthcare system plans to extend the service to the public in early 2016 for a flat fee that may be covered by insurance. The service is available 24-hours a day, with provider diagnosis and treatment available from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Requests that come after hours will be prioritized for response in the morning.

UMass Memorial is working with Zipnosis, a software company that helps healthcare providers offer virtual care services to diagnose, treat or triage more than 90 minor medical conditions.
 
"Through our partnership with Zipnosis, we are excited to give more patients access to fast, affordable mainstream medicine in minutes," said Dickson, in a statement announcing the offering. The platform, as he explained, "will allow us to make high-quality care from our own clinicians available to patients where and when they want to receive it, at an affordable price." He added that virtual visits were conceived as a critical component of UMass Memorial's commitment to growing our virtual medical capabilities. 

"We've long offered cutting-edge virtual care for the most serious conditions – for instance we remotely monitor patients in more than 14 intensive care units across the state through our eICU program, and our teleneurology program which covers eight hospitals, representing 887 inpatient beds," Dickson noted.  

As Jon Pearce, CEO and co-founder of Zipnosis, sees it, by offering virtual care, UMass Memorial is positioned to be a market leader in central Massachusetts.
 
He pointed out that adherence to evidence-based guidelines via the Zipnosis platform is 98.4 percent for sinusitis and nearly 100 percent for UTI.