WellSpan Epic EHR goes live without a hitch

The health system expected delays, but they didn’t happen due to a ton of preparation work on the part the system’s workforce.
By Jessica Davis
02:14 PM
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WellSpan Epic EHR

WellSpan Community Hospital in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Photo via Facebook

WellSpan Health, an integrated health system in south-central Pennsylvania, alerted its patients to possible delays last week before it went live with its Epic electronic health record system on May 5.

But while the organization expected longer than usual wait times as staff made the transition at all WellSpan locations in Lancaster and Lebanon Counties -- it may have been an unnecessary warning.

“We went live on a Friday, and of course there was the chaos of going live everywhere,” said WellSpan Senior Vice President and CIO Hal Baker, MD. “But we had the weekend to figure out how to be better prepared for Monday.”

Epic was nervous about the choice to launch the system at the end of a week, but it really worked out, he said.

[Also: Wake Forest's Epic EHR rollout was a money pit. Here's how they turned it around]

Baker’s team of ambassadors have handled possible disruptions, but the roll-out went as smoothly as possible. He attributes the success to the governance established well before Friday’s go-live.

“We put together power teams across all of WellSpan’s divisions, sectors and regions, with a tremendous amount of standardization,” Baker said. “We’ve also had good communication. The greatest surprise to me is the degree to which the project has aligned leadership teams to view each other as part of the same operational family.”

The health system hired a dedicated communication person a year before go-live to handle staff readiness and assessments. Operational leaders handled training and helped staff to practice with the system in preparation.

“It’s not an IT project, it’s an operations and clinical project,” said Baker. “It’s been a great aligning of two communities, and we’re much stronger as a result.”

WellSpan has more than 130 locations throughout Pennsylvania, and although Baker said the organization had successful systems in place prior to the switch, he realized the organization was not as connected as it could be.

“We recognized that we couldn’t function as one complete system, if we had multiple records and systems in place,” Baker said. “We called it ‘Project One,’ not for its prioritization, but as it’s about one organization.”

WellSpan made the decision to switch its entire system to Epic in 2014, and spent the following years preparing for the move. The estimated cost is $188.7 million over three years. The hope is for providers to better connect with patients and improve care coordination.

The goal is to have all WellSpan locations switched to Epic by Oct. 20, said Baker.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com


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