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Published on November 17, 2020

Life just got easier for Cape Cod patients

Epic EMR

Cape Cod Healthcare patients now have their medical records gathered under one, single electronic medical record, or EMR. It’s powered by Epic, a system I’ve used for several years to connect with my doctors who are outside the Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) network. For me, it’s been a game-changer. Here’s why:

Ten years ago, I had cancer. And emergency thyroid surgery. And a broken leg. And now, I’m old.

As you might imagine, I have a lot of doctors, many of whom are off-Cape. Yet, through my online Epic portal, I can ask a question, make an appointment, order a prescription refill or see the results of a test, without having to sit on hold or wait for a callback or a letter in the mail. Of course, I can still call a doctor’s office if I prefer it or have something urgent.

And, now, with the introduction of the Epic single electronic record system to CCHC, my primary care physician will be in on the digital conversation and be able to easily see tests and treatments arranged by the specialists I see.

Doctors also see the system’s advantages and believe it’s a good fit for patients.

“I’m excited about the opportunity, both as a practitioner and as a patient,” said Jeffrey Martin, MD, a radiation oncologist at Cape Cod Hospital and Falmouth Hospital, who used Epic when he was a resident.

Because the Epic system allows patients to schedule appointments or make requests, it frees up provider phone lines for patients with more urgent needs, he said. It also makes it easier for doctors within and outside CCHC to share up-to-date information, taking some of the pressure off patients to be responsible for communication.

“The less patients have to repeat themselves, the more they feel they are taken care of,” Dr. Martin said. “(The new EMR) is good for patients and providers to communicate more directly.”

Curious about how it might work? Here are some of the highlights of using my electronic gateway:

I have a log-in that takes me to a personal dashboard. From there, I can, for example, link to a list of all my scheduled appointments; I can filter them by doctor or specialties. It also shows me past visits, just in case I can’t remember when I had my annual check-up with my endocrinologist, for example. If I need to confirm, cancel or reschedule an appointment with select providers, I can do it digitally. I also can add appointments to my digital calendar with one click.

But the dashboard has more, including:

  • A message center where I can email any of my doctors and request a prescription renewal, referral or copy of a medical record. I’ve found that in most cases, doctors or their offices get back to me within 24 hours. That’s saved the time that I used to spend navigating phone trees or sitting on hold -- and has lowered my frustration level.
  • A link to any medical tests ordered by doctors in the system -- mammograms, pap smears, bloodwork. I just click on any of them to see the results. And any of my doctors in the system can see tests ordered by the others. That’s hugely helpful when I can’t always remember when I had my last bone density test, for example, or they need to share medical knowledge that sounds like gobbledygook to me. I also can see the follow-up summaries written by a doctor after my visit. These are helpful to spark my memory about decisions, such as why we decided to try a particular medication.
  • Billing information, including statements and how much I’ve paid for services or tests.
  • Access to a medical library with information that explains conditions or tests.
  • A personal profile where I can set up how I want doctors and hospitals to communicate with me: phone, text or email. I also can set preferred appointment times, so that, for example, I’m not trying to make it to a Boston hospital from Cape Cod during rush hour. There’s also a spot for caregiver information and my preferred language. I could even choose to change the color combo of my dashboard, although I’m currently happy with teal blue.
  • Technical support in case I just can’t find something on the site or can’t remember how to change my username or password or run into a glitch.

Click here to learn more about signing up for the MyChart patient portal.