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VOL. 127 | NO. 139 | Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baptist Contracts With Software Vendor Epic

By Aisling Maki

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Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. has signed a contract with Epic, a software vendor based out of Verona, Wis., to implement the health care system’s transition to electronic health records.

Baptist is one of the largest not-for-profit health care systems in the United States.

It encompasses 14 affiliated hospitals in West Tennessee, North Mississippi and East Arkansas; more than 4,000 affiliated physicians; a multispecialty physician group; home, hospice and psychiatric care; minor medical centers and clinics; a network of surgery, rehabilitation and other outpatient centers; and education spearheaded by the Baptist College of Health Science.

Baptist decided to go with Epic after conducting a great deal of research.

More than 2,500 Baptist colleagues attended numerous demonstrations, with Baptist requesting their feedback before making a decision.

Dr. Jack Brown, chief medical information officer for Baptist, said the health care system is the first provider in the state of Tennessee to contract with Epic, which provides fully integrated software for mid-size and large medical groups, hospitals and health care organizations.

With about 270 customers, Epic already serves more than 42 percent of the U.S. population and 2 percent of the world’s population.

Brown said they chose Epic because “it’s a single database that addresses clinical, financial and patient needs.”

He said Epic will allow the hospital system to create one record for each patient that’s accessible to the patient and any patient caregivers.

Patients can download a Smartphone app that will enable them to perform numerous functions, such as schedule appointments, make payments and request medication refills.

The use of Epic is expected to enhance patient flow and decrease wait times at Baptist, which has more than 2,300 licensed beds systemwide, and admits about 85,000 patients annually.

Baptist leadership says the electronic system will help increase efficiency by sending automatic reminders to patients and alerts for physicians and clinical staff.

Dr. William Light, an internist with The Light Clinic, which is part of Baptist Medical Group, said streamlining the ability to access information is vital to improving the quality of care throughout the system.

“The importance of Epic is you have the same system throughout the hospitals, clinics, pharmacies – everyone will be on the same system,” Light said. “It’s not just interfaced, but it’s actually the same system.”

Under the Affordable Care Act, health care providers are required to make the transition from paper charts to electronic health records technology in an effort to improve the quality of care and lower costs in the long-run by helping to avoiding situations such as duplication of tests or billing errors.

All 14,000 Baptist employees and 4,000 affiliated physicians will be affected by the complete transition to electronic health records under Epic.

Although Baptist is working to implement the fully integrated system as quickly as possible, it will require staff training, and Baptist hasn’t announced a target date for completion.

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