"I pray thee cease thy counsel/Which falls into mine ears as profitless as water in a sieve." - William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
This week, we offer a lament from a reader who's sick of hearing about the Kaiser/Epic medical records slugfest. Our correspondent works within Kaiser's northern California region, and has used the Epic EMR for about a year. In his mind, all of the controversy is (pick your proverb) a tempest in a teapot....much ado about nothing...all sound and fury signifying nothing. (Man, I'm getting Shakespearean today. Must be the level of drama involved!) He says:
I read your Editor's Corner and I have to comment as a user of the Epic EMR within Northern California Kaiser for the past year. It works fine. Yes, there are slightly different versions of Epic running in different regions but from an end-user point of view, they are perfectly integrated. As new regions are started on the EMR, upgraded versions are used that have updated and better features, and very slowly these are upgraded on older versions. I can request a chart from another region and can see it requested. When it's opened up, I add whatever documentation I need, and when closed, it is sent off to the home medical center. It is seamless. We have had no significant down time the past year in Northern California from my perspective--none--despite what has been reported by non-Epic users. And the EMR does not prevent us from doing what we were trained to do: take care of patients.
We still do the same things we did when we were trained. We examine and talk to the patient, order labs or studies, make the diagnosis and initiate treatment. The EMR is convenient for documentation and historical data retrieval. It adds a little more work to our workflow, but does not change our focus at all--the patient is still the primary concern. We have several back-up systems in place if we need them, but there is nothing different in what we have ever done. In my humble opinion, as a user, the concerns and complaints are overblown and do not deserve the attention they are getting.
As an aside, even if our reader is right, and Justen Deal's complaints aren't on target, Epic hasn't helped matters much by stonewalling the press. (They wouldn't return my calls, anyway.) Now, I'm not necessarily trashing them for this, just noting that they haven't given me the chance to tell their side of the story. Epic folks, if you're reading this, I'd love to learn more about your architecture, philosophy and plans--so don't be a stranger, Okay? - Anne
P.S. Are you guys getting psyched for HiMSS '07? I can't wait to see New Orleans again, and meet as many of you as possible, of course. When you go, you can't afford to miss our red-hot networking party, On The Rocks, at Utopia on Bourbon Street. RSVP now and claim your spot before we run out of space. The event will be a blast, and a great way to make connections. (By the way, for your marketing types, sponsorship opportunities are available.) Hey, you've gotta laissez le bon temps rouler before you go back to your desk job!