What the new Cape Cod health records system means to you
Providing an interactive, comprehensive health record was the promise of digitization. Unfortunately, in the absence of a national standard, that effort fell short. Records kept in different healthcare organizations’ software systems remain unconnected, making it hard to reliably gather and manage our health history from one, single place.
Because of this lack of interoperability, it can be an arduous process keeping informed of the full picture of our own health statuses. Even our doctors can be hampered in their efforts to see a comprehensive account.
The good news is this is now changing for many patients on Cape Cod. Cape Cod Healthcare (CCHC) has installed the Epic System, the nation’s premier healthcare information systems vendor. In doing so, not only can local physicians’ offices be connected, but they also have access to patient visit information collected across other Epic-installed health systems.
With a network that includes over 250 million patient records, this is a big step forward.
How will you benefit?
Epic System’s MyChart is a feature-rich electronic health record accessible to you and your healthcare providers. There are benefits for each.
Having a single patient record enables your doctors to have a fuller picture of your health status, as sharing notes is now done automatically. This is especially important for those of us with chronic conditions, like congestive heart failure, diabetes, and COPD. Keeping all of the clinicians on the same page and informed of each other’s clinical impressions and care plans will be easier.
“For patient care, this is a much better way for specialists and primary care physicians to communicate,” said Cape Cod Healthcare breast surgeon Jill Oxley MD, FACS.
With the prior CCHC system, acquiring data and external records involved phone calls from office staff, receiving faxes and scanning documents. It was a time-intensive process that didn’t always get clinicians what they need. And it isn’t always a complete picture, said Greg Everson, senior manager for CCHC Patient Care Information Systems.
Having all of this important information in a single place ensures that any changes in health status, treatments and medications, among others, are immediately recognized and accounted for.
Falmouth Hospital obstetrician and gynecologist Nisha David, MD used the Epic System in both medical school and residency and is a big fan.
“Now, when I have a patient in the hospital, I will be able view their information without having to get out of one system and going into another. I will also be able to follow them if they were admitted to any of the other participating hospitals, even in Boston,” she said. “It’s a great system.”
And for seasonal visitors and those of us who spend winters elsewhere, being part of a large network helps drive exceptional care, which is what Cape Cod Healthcare is all about, said Everson.
“I’m excited for our patients to have their data readily available to ensure the most comprehensive and best patient care possible, no matter where they are,” he said.
What will it look and feel like to you?
To benefit from the Epic System, the very first thing that you will need to do is to sign up to access the MyChart patient portal. This requires an activation code which you can request online during signup or can be provided at your next doctor’s appointment. The portal is HIPAA-compliant, assuring the highest level of security and patient privacy.
Improving the patient experience is also at the heart of moving to the Epic System. With easy-to-use tools at your fingertips, you will be able to:
- Find care and schedule select appointments
- View upcoming and past appointments
- Manage medications, including refills
- Get test results
- Pay your bill
- Message your health care providers
- Complete paperwork prior to an appointment
- Update your family health history
- Follow your health trends
This means that you drive the process of connecting with your physician’s practice, at a time and place of your own convenience. When trying to schedule select appointments, looking for a test result, or paying a bill, for example, you no longer need to remain on hold.
Staying informed about and managing your own health is now possible, using simple graphics that illustrate changes and trends over time. Watching your weight, cholesterol or blood sugar just got a whole lot easier.
And when you travel, it is now less likely that you will need to be in the middle of getting your important healthcare documents to and from your local doctors; the system will do it for you.
“A key benefit from the technology is that we’ll be able to discretely reconcile and incorporate visit histories and clinical documentation into our local Epic database, including coded allergies, home medications, patient problems and diagnoses,” said Everson. “Clinicians will be able to incorporate this discretely, allowing your record to be as current and clinically accurate as possible.”