St. Charles Health System, the largest provider of medical care in Central Oregon, is going live with a new Epic-hosted electronic health record and patient portal on Saturday—the culmination of hundreds of hours of “operational readiness” planning and training.

The $79.5 million project, which replaces four EHR systems, will bring the health organization’s four hospitals and 23 clinics under a unified system for patient records, care delivery processes, registration, scheduling and billing.

“We actually had four EHRs in our environment,” says Jeremiah Brickhouse, chief information officer at St. Charles Health, who notes that these included systems from Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, McKesson and Mosaic.

St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon
St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon

Also See: St. Charles Health selects Epic as its EHR vendor

According to Chad Cagnolatti, Epic EHR implementation program director at St. Charles Health, the goal of standardizing on the Epic platform is achieving interoperability and serving “all of our patients across all venues of care.”

In addition to the EHR, St. Charles is implementing a new patient portal—Epic’s MyChart—that will replace an existing one from RelayHealth, providing patients with the ability to access their health records online or through a mobile app, view test results, schedule appointments with family care clinics and pay bills online.

“We’re going to MyChart, which is a more robust patient portal,” adds Brickhouse. “We’re also implementing some population health tools, which will be new to St. Charles.”

From the beginning of the nearly two-year project, Cagnolatti says leadership at St. Charles has placed a priority on training to ensure that clinicians and all staff members who will use the Epic EHR are comfortable with the system and that it doesn’t disrupt workflows.

“We also adopted a strategy from Epic where we selected providers and trained them early so that they could in turn train their peers,” says Cagnolatti. As a result, he observes that this peer-to-peer training is “more relevant” and provides richer engagement than the traditional classroom setting. Currently, more than 4,000 personnel have been trained on the EHR.

To ensure that the transition to the new system comes off without a hitch, Brickhouse says St. Charles will have a total of 150 members from its IT team standing by this weekend to monitor the go-live, as well as matching staffing from Epic’s Verona, Wis.-based headquarters.

“In addition to that, we brought in north of 100 people from a company called CSI to also provide support,” he comments. “We also have north of 500 super-users across the health system that will help us triage and respond to issues.”

Cagnolatti adds that the budget for this project was set for $79.5 million and “right now we consider ourselves on budget or slightly running under the budget.”

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