Optimizing Epic to work for you and your patients

Todd Guenzburger, M.D.

Todd Guenzburger, M.D.
Chief medical information officer, Oregon Region

Sept. 18, 2013

It was a busy summer in Oregon, culminating with our final two Epic go-lives at Providence Hood River Memorial and Providence Seaside hospitals. These two installations presented distinct challenges, given their critical-access designation and the build requirements to support such a designation.

It’s been a long journey to this point, but we’re really just beginning. We need to make our technology systems work for us rather than us working for our technology. We now have the platform to begin that transformation.

So how can providers get better and faster with Epic? First, remember that each ministry has an informatics team to help support providers and clinicians. They are your go-to resource for “in the moment” help, but they’re also available to help you customize your workflows and provide tips and tricks that are not covered during go-live training.

In particular, Navigators – those buttons in Epic that serve up “workflow paths” through Epic such as Admission, Rounding and Discharge – provide crucial pieces of functionality that improve timely patient care. Clicking around the chart is inefficient and often leads to missed opportunities that could leverage more value from Epic. The sticky note functionality, for example, allows nurses to leave you asynchronous, non-urgent notes about your patient. These could be missed without the use of navigators. Navigators will help you succeed in providing the best care of your patient.

The Active Problem list also is important. This list should contain any new problems your patient is experiencing as well as chronically active issues. The principal cause for hospitalization should be noted. If you’re a subspecialist, the reason you’re on the case should be clearly evident in the problem list.

The most specific diagnosis you can make will help define your case mix and why your patients might be sicker than the average patient. These diagnoses also help generate suggestions to better care for your patient. You’ll also be reminded about documentation, core care measures and other quality initiatives.

For other helpful hints, reach out to your local informaticists. Not only will they help you leverage Epic’s power, they’ll bring your suggestions for improvements to the system-wide Epic optimization program for consideration and approval.

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