Need for population health data drives practice to consider EHR switch

December 3, 2016

In this guest blog, one practice outlines their journey for switching EHRs.

Our 20-provider (eight physicians, 12 nurses) pediatric practice, part of a multi-site practice in southern New Jersey, has been using GE Centricity as our electronic health record system for almost six years. Throughout that time, we have worked with our IT management company, tailoring the system to suit our practice’s needs. For example, we created templates for sick and well visits that allowed for the use of global and personal quick texts.

 We also created custom problem lists and medication lists that are reviewed and updated yearly. We have patient instruction sheets, at appropriate patient reading levels, for the most commonly-presenting problems. All this work has allowed us to become a certified Level 3 patient-centered medical home, and to maintain this documentation to facilitate recertification every three years.

 

Related: 6 tips to help practices adapt to a new EHR

 

However, we are exploring changing to EPIC as our EHR system. We have been invited to partner with our local hospital system. Not only that, all of our local and regional hospitals either use EPIC or are planning to be on it in the near future. Also, we are concerned that GE might leave the EHR field altogether in a few years.

As we delve further into population health practices, including taking on more risk-based insurance contracts from insurance companies, the ability of our EHR to provide the proper analytics-including sharing patient data with our hospital system and other outside practices-is becoming more critical. We are looking into the reported ease with which patient data can be shared using EPIC systems.

 

Further reading: How to stay engaged with patients-in spite of your EHR

 

Although the population health capabilities appear to be more advanced in EPIC than GE Centricity, and the long-term presence of EPIC in the EHR market seems much greater than that of GE Centricity, we are still hesitant to make the changeover after almost six years with our current EHR. This would be very painful, but if necessary, it’s certainly something we will do.

Next: Handling the important issue of cost

 

Cost is another important issue. EPIC is a very expensive product.  If without EPIC we stand to lose a significant amount of money, the cost investment to move forward will be necessary. We just hope the listed benefits will translate into the increased reimbursements (or increased savings) that will offset the cost.

 

Hot topic: EHRs must deliver on promises or face ONC scrutiny

 

But our largest reason for hesitancy is concern that we might not be able to customize EPIC to any reasonable degree compared to how we’ve customized GE Centricity. We are visiting other centers that are fully integrated on EPIC in outpatient community setting. We are also working with our local hospital, which is transitioning to EPIC, to see what level of customization we can provide to the ‘out of the box’ product being delivered to the hospital.

Since we know that EPIC is the largest provider of EHR systems, and we are no longer EHR naïve, our hope is we can work through our concerns to work with the best, most robust EHR system available.