Epic notches a first with Canadian EHR install

The enterprise rollout at Ontario's Mackenzie Health, billed as the first end-to-end implementation north of the border, offers some good perspective on a smooth go-live: planning ahead, proper staffing levels, command centers and more.
By Mike Miliard
04:04 PM

Mackenzie Health, a regional health network based in Richmond Hill, Ontario, has rolled out an Epic electronic health record, said to be the first full-suite Epic install in a Canadian hospital.

"The launch of the new electronic medical record is one of the largest transformational projects in Mackenzie Health's history and puts us at the forefront of care delivery," said Steven Jackson, MD, chief of staff at Mackenzie Health.

The build-out took two years and clinicians and staff were closely involved in the testing and education, the hospital said.

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[Also: Mayo Clinic kicks off massive Epic EHR go-live]

"Physicians and volunteers have been working together as a team to ensure this journey is a success, and we are proud to be the first hospital in Canada to implement the end-to-end Epic system," said Jackson.

Two weeks before go-live, more than 100 staffers transitioned more than 15,000 scheduled appointments – for imaging tests, dialysis, cardiovascular procedures and more – into the new system. More than 1,500 scheduled surgeries and ambulatory procedures were also converted from the legacy system into Epic.

Before launch, Mackenzie set up a team comprising registration staff, nurses, pharmacists and others to ensure all admitted patients were captured within the EHR as of July 7 – helping ensure a seamless transition upon launch the next day. Officials said that process involved more than 70 people working together for more 20 hours.

Meanwhile, a technical command center was launched, staffed by 90 or so staffers, as well as an operations support center to oversee clinical operations and coordinate more than 260 additional support staff deployed across the organization.

One of the features the hospital likes is a faster registration process, enabled by patients' ability to swipe cards on a self-serve kiosks, according to Mackenzie. Those patients who plan ahead can also check in electronically via an improved version of Epic's MyChart portal, according to the hospital. Up to seven days before an appointment they can log on to get a barcode that's scanned upon arrival.

But quality and safety was of course the chief rationale for implementing the EHR, and Mackenzie officials say bedside documentation will help care teams more easily send orders directly to the lab and pharmacy, and will help prevent safety errors thanks to closed loop medication administration and bar code validation.

"Our vision at Mackenzie Health is to create a world-class health experience for our patients and families, and ensure they receive the highest quality care possible," said Altaf Stationwala, president and CEO of Mackenzie Health.

"As Epic's first enterprise community member in Canada, Mackenzie Health continues their commitment to delivering high quality, compassionate and timely care with this milestone," said Epic CEO Judy Faulkner. "We look forward to a long and successful relationship as we work toward our shared goal of helping people get well, helping people stay well, and helping future generations be healthier."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

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