Using Specialist Trainers to Teach Epic to Others

September 4, 2019
Jonathan Overdevest, MD, and his team in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, are shown in this group photo.
Jonathan Overdevest, MD, and his team in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery at Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Overdevest is a specialist trainer who will help his peers learn Epic. (Credit: Handout)

Many of our colleagues have taken on extra roles to ensure the medical teams of Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) are ready for Epic’s go-live on Jan. 31, 2020. Through the “specialists training specialists” program—or STS—physician assistants, attendings, fellows, house staff, and nurse practitioners are learning the ins and outs of Epic so they can train their colleagues. 

Sweta Patel is a physician assistant in the Department of Neurology. She took on the role of STS trainer because she saw it as an opportunity to be a big part of the transition to Epic. Patel has past experience using Epic, which gives her a window into what all End Users will face in training.

“I’m looking forward to teaching Epic with the clinical perspective in mind,” Patel said. “Epic has the capability to improve efficiency. We all interact with the EMR constantly, and making that process as efficient as possible serves clinicians and patients for the better.”

Jonathan Overdevest, MD, practices in rhinology and skull base surgery in the Department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery. Joining the STS team offered him a unique opportunity to gain a view from the frontlines of Columbia and NYP’s Epic implementation efforts.

“In this position, we enjoy early access to the direction of the Epic movement yet have the opportunity to shape how Epic will be utilized by the practitioners in our department and the patients we serve,” said Overdevest, who also sees many benefits for the patients. “The enhanced online portal will be a regularly used resource, particularly as additional features are added to the site to facilitate more interactive patient care.”

Patel noted that she is eager to use Care Everywhere, a feature in Epic’s core clinical system that helps ensure that patients’ health data follow them anywhere in a single patient story—even when they cross organizational boundaries. Organizations that use Care Everywhere share approximately seven times the clinical information required by national government standards, including lab values, reference-quality images, results histories, encounter summaries, and specialty consult notes. Care Everywhere also includes search, scheduling, messaging, telehealth, and duplicate checking. 

“Information is key when taking care of patients,” said Patel. “Care Everywhere will allow us to not only take better care of our patients but also avoid unnecessary repeat testing.”

Overdevest echoed how Epic will improve clinical practice. “As STS trainers, we identify ways to streamline care practices. With the improved technological advancements that accompany the Epic platform, we are hoping to identify ways to improve the way physicians interact with the EMR to create a simpler and more fluid way of communicating about patient care while minimizing distractions with documentation.”

The entire EpicTogether project has 140 STS trainers across all specialties. The majority of trainers were recruited from ColumbiaDoctors.

Benefits of Epic

Patients are at the heart of the work we do, and launching Epic, a single electronic medical record and business platform, helps us to improve the patient experience. It will also become a trusted tool for our providers and staff.

Among the other benefits, Epic: 

•    Combines inpatient and outpatient records.
•    Combines registration, scheduling, clinical documentation, and billing.
•    Gives patients the option of sharing their records with other Epic institutions. 
•    Allows providers mobile access to records and documentation.
•    Offers many different ways to document (note templates, voice to text, dictation, SmartPhrases).
•    Provides a unified patient portal, allowing patients to communicate directly with providers, review lab results, pay bills online, and manage their medications. The new patient portal is named Connect.
•    Enhances secure communication for care teams through built-in Secure Chat.