Evolving into the future

In August 2014, I posted “Beyond the core Electronic Health Record” about our primary integrated vendor strategy at UMHS. We have already implemented the core suite of products from Epic. We continue to be committed to this strategy and it continues to serve us well.

We are in what we call MiChart Stage 4 which includes radiology, home care, and part of cardiology. We had agreed that anesthesiology and transplant would be in a future stage. As we plan for those future stages, we’re also considering ambulatory pharmacy, care management, infection control and other specialty areas.

Outside these major stages, there are ongoing needs to support strategic initiatives in capacity management, patient engagement and telehealth. We are planning for the Bed Management module to replace an existing third party product, Bedside in the hospitals that don’t already have a solution, and telehealth functions.

We are also discussing another critical area where Epic is building out functionality. It is a space with established vendors and proven products. So cost, timing, and integration are key factors in our decision. We want to be able to leverage our existing investment and ensure an integrated solution for a more seamless workflow.

In our Value and Margin Improvement initiative in the application rationalization area, we are finding more opportunities to leverage our primary vendor and reduce redundant third party applications.

As I said in that previous EHR post, we have been guided by a few key principles:

  • The primary vendor strategy for applications is supported throughout the organization
  • Departmental information technology project priorities are institutionally governed
  • The enterprise strategy for clinical and administrative information systems supersedes local preferences.

So, when we make decisions and tradeoffs with departmental systems, we keep in mind the overarching goal – a comprehensive, longitudinal, integrated EHR that works in all care settings.

This week we invited a broad representative group of UMHS leaders and staff to hear directly from lead developers at Epic on current and future products. We hosted an Epic Roadshow (some called it “the Epic-palooza”) to inform users and decision makers on potential products.

The leading EHR vendors continue to evolve to keep up with the changing health care landscape. They are adding functionality across the continuum of care and in specialty areas, addressing the growing expectations from patients for more access to information, and providing open standards based platforms for innovative development by advanced academic medical centers.

They also must recognize they are not an island and take into account emerging standards such as FHIR and the need to work with Apple HealthKit, patient wearables and home devices.

With our primary vendor, I see very positive progress around specialty modules, population health, telehealth, patient engagement, analytics, and non-acute care.

As I’ve written in the past, we will look first to deploy additional Epic capability as part of the integrated EHR before we purchase and interface a third party niche product. We will develop our own internal solutions if there is a market gap or if we are so far ahead of the innovation curve that we just can’t wait.

Our primary integrated vendor strategy is a sound one that serves us well.  We will continue to evaluate new needs within this framework.

Leave a Reply