As the effects of COVID-19 are felt across the nation, it’s critical that healthcare providers have a clear picture of people’s health across the communities they serve – especially for people who are most at risk. Two Georgia healthcare organizations and a leading healthcare software company teamed up make that possible in a span of a few weeks.
Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) and Good News Clinics (GNC) started working together to test and treat patients in Hall County with COVID-19 in March. GNC – a nonprofit that provides free medical and dental care to the uninsured through volunteer physicians, nurses and dentists – was still using paper and fax machines to document patient care and communicate with other area healthcare providers. Both organizations noticed the prevalence of the virus among the uninsured and underinsured population and decided that they needed a better way to coordinate care for patients treated at GNC – and they needed to move quickly.
“We knew we needed to get GNC on Epic, the same electronic health record as NGHS and Longstreet Clinic, so we could share patients’ health information in real time,” said Antonio Rios, chief physician executive for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group and GNC physician volunteer. “The NGHS Foundation was making steady progress towards its goal to raise funds to implement Epic at GNC, but the need suddenly became urgent.”
Epic waived implementation fees at GNC and several other healthcare organizations around the country to help them battle COVID-19.
“NGHS and Good News Clinics went from kicking off the project in late April to go-live just a few weeks later,” said Jeff Heerhold, Epic implementation executive. “Together, we took a process that typically takes months and made it happen in just a few weeks. The tenacious team, strong executive support and tireless work contributed to a successful rapid implementation.”
GNC started using Epic on June 1 – replacing the cumbersome, time-consuming process of faxing physician orders and medical histories with quick, electronic referrals between community partners.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to now be able to share data and have a better picture of the health needs of our community,” said Liz Coates, director of GNC. “This is truly a game changer for us and our patients.”
“We are very appreciative of the generosity of Epic and our community who supported this vital software,” said Chris Bray, president and chief development officer for the NGHS Foundation. “As the healthcare needs of our region continue to evolve, it’s important for us to use the most up-to-date technology. The Epic implementation at GNC couldn’t come at a more ideal time.”
Signature gifts were made from the R. Howard Dobbs Jr. Foundation and Dot and Don Pirkle towards Epic implementation at GNC. Gifts to the NGHS Foundation support community health initiatives and allow NGHS to provide the latest medical treatments and end-of-life care, as well as support access to care for all patients – regardless of their ability to pay.
To learn more about the NGHS Foundation, visit www.nghs.com/Foundation.
ABOUT NORTHEAST GEORGIA HEALTH SYSTEM
Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) is a non-profit on a mission of improving the health of our community in all we do. Our team cares for more than 1 million people across the region through three hospitals and a variety of outpatient locations. Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) has three hospital campuses – NGMC Gainesville, NGMC Braselton and NGMC Barrow – with a total of 713 beds and more than 800 medical staff members representing more than 50 specialties. Learn more at www.nghs.com.