Longstreet Clinic launches electronic health record with NGHS

Published on June 27, 2019

Longstreet Clinic is excited to announce that on July 1 it will implement the industry leading health information platform - Epic. This technology platform will allow Longstreet providers to share one patient medical record across other Epic providers in Northeast Georgia - including Northeast Georgia Medical Center's (NGMC) hospital facilities, The Heart Center of NGMC (THC) and Northeast Georgia Physicians Group (NGPG). In addition, this platform will replace most all of Longstreet's other information systems including laboratory, radiology, billing and financial - literally touching every aspect of Longstreet's operations.

"Epic is a game-changer from both a patient and clinical perspective," said Chad Copper, M.D., FACS, general surgeon at Longstreet Clinic and co-chair of Longstreet Clinic's Epic project. "Because, if you are a patient at more than one of the healthcare provider groups on Epic in our region, all your providers will be able to access the same shared health record - placing access to such items as medication lists, procedure lists, diagnostic results and past medical histories at their fingertips. Epic has the power to connect our patient's medical care across our community like never before, creating a more seamless and improved environment of care."

Epic has already proven a valuable addition to some of the nation's leading hospitals and is utilized by the majority of U.S. News and World Report's top-ranked hospitals and medical schools. It was implemented locally across Northeast Georgia Health System's facilities and groups in October 2017. In December 2017, after a multi-year evaluation process in which multiple platforms were evaluated, Longstreet Clinic made the decision to move to Epic as well. This means patients of Longstreet and other practices and hospitals connected via Epic will now share one health record improving the sharing and access to critical health information in the care delivery process.

For example, when a Longstreet patient is seen at the emergency room at NGMC, the emergency room clinicians, physicians and providers will see that patient's medical history, medications and previous treatment and will complete all documentation in the same chart during that visit in the ER. Likewise, when Longstreet physicians see the patient in follow up and ongoing care in their office, they will be able to view all the information from the emergency room visit in the shared record, seamlessly improving the continuity of care between transitions of care, different sites and providers.

"Not only does our Epic partnership improve the health of our community by giving patients more access to information about their care," says Carol Burrell, NGHS President and CEO, "it also creates a foundation for NGHS and Longstreet Clinic to continue working together to provide services that our patients and community need."

This implementation impacts every single one of the over 800 staff and provider members of the Clinic as well affiliated vendors, providers and partners of the Clinic. To prepare for such an endeavor, Longstreet Clinic and its staff have worked tirelessly during the last 18 months to ensure a smooth and successful transition. Much work had to be done to customize the system for the Longstreet Clinic environment and specialists within the Clinic. In fact, Longstreet staff members have logged more than 30,000 man power hours in training, work flow design sessions, conversion and go-live preparation.

"Longstreet Clinic has always been an early adopter of technology," said Mimi Collins, Longstreet Clinic CEO. "We implemented the region's first electronic health record in 2001, and our physicians and staff have already followed and exceeded industry standards for conversion to Epic, putting us on track for a seamless launch for our patients, staff and providers."

Pediatrics was the first Longstreet practice that went live with Longstreet's first electronic health record in 2001, and, by 2005, the entire Clinic had fully implemented the system. In 2008, Longstreet Clinic received the e-Technology Award from the Physicians' Institute of Excellence for successfully implementing an electronic medical records system that had a positive impact on clinical practice and quality care.

Longstreet Clinic also involved the local education community in its preparations, hiring nine Lanier Technical College Health Information Management students to assist in a six-week "Technical Dress Rehearsal" for the Epic launch, as well as working with a number of students from various institutions to assist with our go-live effort.

"In an effort to test every desktop, laptop, printer, scanner and beyond - Longstreet Clinic and the Lanier Technical College students had to touch and test every device to make sure every aspect of the technology worked as it should," said Loren Funk, COO at Longstreet Clinic. "A true community-wide effort, these students have provided invaluable manpower during our conversion process proactively helping to identify any possible technical disruptions to our patient flow prior to launch."

This Epic implementation brings the added benefit of access to MyChart, a secure online patient portal that allows patients access to their medical record, make appointments, communicate electronically with provider's offices, and pay bills. It is free, easy to use, and allows patients 24-hour access from their computer or mobile device.

"MyChart is the patient portal platform already in use by NGHS that helps connect patients to their doctor or provider to manage their health," Dr. Copper said. "When Longstreet Clinic goes live on July 1, it will sync our records in MyChart as well. So, patients of Longstreet Clinic who are already MyChart users through the Health System will automatically see our Longstreet providers and health information load to their accounts. And for new users, it will be an easy sign up process."

Longstreet Clinic is ready to unveil Epic and make it a valuable part of Longstreet’s stated goal of providing the absolute best in patient-centered care across the entire healthcare spectrum.

"At Longstreet Clinic, our patients are at the center of all that we do," Collins said. "That is why our team spent quite literally years on this project. I could not be prouder of the level of professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication that each and every staff member has displayed implementing Epic. This process is intense, and our team worked around the clock to ensure a seamless transition for our patients, because at the end of the day, our patients are why we have invested our time and resources into this innovative platform."

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