An Epic Leap Into the Future of Health Care

May 24, 2018

With more than a dozen clinical, technical, and administrative staff looking on from a command center atop Belmont Hill, at 5am on June 24, 2017, McLean Hospital took a giant leap into the future of health care as it flipped the switch and officially “went live” with an electronic health record (EHR). The EHR, which is built using the Epic platform and is known as Partners eCare, is the largest infrastructure endeavor ever undertaken by McLean.

Behind the new workstations, countless hours of training, and hospital-wide meetings to discuss workflows and customized builds to make the system work at McLean is a sophisticated tool that impacts nearly every McLean employee and all patients.

“This is an incredibly powerful system that touches every facet of the hospital, from helping us more efficiently schedule outpatient appointments and track admissions to streamlining our billing system,” said Michele L. Gougeon, MSS, MSc, executive vice president and chief operating officer for McLean. “The benefit for patients and their families is our ability to now more effectively share information between our own programs, as well as across the Partners system.”

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While eCare enhances the ability of providers to coordinate care, it also makes it easier for patients to track their own care through the website Patient Gateway and simplifies paying bills. Another benefit to the system is greater communication between mental health and primary care providers within the Partners network, according to Brent P. Forester, MD, MSc, chief of McLean’s Division of Geriatric Psychiatry and medical director of behavioral health in the Center for Population Health at Mass General Brigham.

“Epic provides us with an opportunity to better integrate mental health within primary care and allows us to proactively work with primary care physicians to share information that helps us proactively identify people at risk for depression prior to a crisis,” explained Forester, who estimates that between 10% and 15% of patients seen within Partners hospitals have a lifetime history of depression. “Epic has allowed us to make depression an active discussion point, rather than something that goes unrecognized in the primary care setting.”

John B. Roseman, MD, clinical content lead for psychiatry within Partners eCare, was instrumental in launching eCare at McLean and in other locations within Partners. Through his lens as a clinician, he sees the tremendous opportunities eCare has created for his colleagues and patients.

eCare was implemented to improve care coordination and to enhance patient care quality and safety. While the implementation has been a huge effort and enhancements to the system continue every day, Epic has already significantly improved many aspects of how we do our jobs and coordinate care for our patients,” explained Roseman, who is also the assistant medical director of McLean’s Electroconvulsive Therapy Service. “It is a very powerful tool, and we are continuing to refine the system and are learning to use it to its full potential.”

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