On March 19, 2018, Tribal Health will officially go Epic. Epic is the new electronic health records system adopted by Tribal Health to improve the delivery of health care services to recipients. To help understand what this means, here are some Q & A’s:
Q. Why Go Epic?
A. Right now, Tribal Health is using an old electronic health records (EHR) system that was used by the Indian Health Service, called RPMS. As of today, this old system is not meeting the needs of Tribal Health.
Q. Why can’t Tribal Health keep using the current electronic health records system?
A. In the near future RPMS will no longer work. As CSKT Tribal Health continues to pioneer a new way of delivering health care to our community, Tribal Health has decided to adopt a new electronic health record (EHR) called Epic that will better suit the needs of Tribal Health recipients.
Q. Why choose Epic?
A. Epic will improve the health care and records of all Tribal Health recipients by making records more easily available and consistent. Epic also streamlines workflows of staff and health care providers, in addition to improving the business processes to help bring Tribal Health to a new standard of delivering health care to the community.
Q. What is an Electronic Health Record (EHR)?
A. An Electronic Health Record (EHR) is an electronic record of a recipient’s health care history, that is maintained by the health care provider over time including demographics, progress notes, problem lists, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory data and radiology reports.
Epic will help strengthen the relationship between recipients and their health care providers. With Epic, there is better access to data, allowing health care providers to make better decisions and provide better care. For example, Epic will improve recipient care by:
- Reducing the potential of medical errors by improving the accuracy and clarity of medical records;
- Making the health information more available to the provider(s), reducing duplication of tests, reducing delays in treatment, and assisting recipients to be better informed to make better health related decisions.
Q. How will recipients be affected by these changes?
A. Tribal Health is working hand-in-hand with technical staff to make the transition to Epic smooth. Staff are being trained in the new systems. As the Tribal Health staff learns the new system, we ask for patience from the community, as we work to improve your health care services by adopting this new electronic health records system.
Q. Will Tribal Health recipients also get additional access to their health care information through Epic?
A. Yes, Epic allows for the implementation of an online connection to recipients’ health care providers, through software called MyChart.
MyChart is a free service that gives secure, online access to a recipient’s health care team and medical record — wherever and whenever they want.
With MyChart, recipients will be able to:
- Review medications, immunizations and medical history;
- Communicate with their health care team;
- Request prescription renewals;
- Review results for most tests;
- Get clinic after-visit summaries;
- Schedule the next primary care appointment;
Q. Why is Epic valuable?
A. One valuable aspect of Epic includes the ability to correspond more effectively with other health care providers in the region. With the new electronic health records system, Tribal Health can also access recipient data from outside of Tribal Health such as radiology images, and lab results to name a few.
Internally, Epic will help Tribal Health providers provide better health care while Tribal Health business staff will be able to improve business practices.
Another great benefit to being more integrated with the regional health care network is that Tribal Health recipients will now get more timely access (i.e., immediately as needed) to MRI and mammograms verses waiting for the mobile units that parked outside of the Tribal Health facilities every two weeks.
Q. Are there other software programs that will fit into the new Tribal Health electronic health records system besides just Epic?
A. Yes, because Tribal Health is unique— due to funding sources and the rich network of services that are offered— Tribal Health is adopting other systems to integrate with Epic to make the business of delivering health care services to recipients run smoothly.
Some of the new software includes Pioneer (for the Pharmacy program); Dentrix (for the Dental program) and Nuvodia (an Inland Imaging program for the new Personal Archiving Communications System also called PACS for viewing radiology images).
Q. What is the timeline for adopting Epic?
A. Tribal Health will go-live with Epic on March 19, 2018.
Q. How is Tribal Health preparing for the transition to Epic?
A. Currently, the transition to Epic includes a lot of technical work behind the scenes, first through identifying the specific needs of Tribal Health, then writing specific programming that will then be uploaded as the new system goes live in March.
Staff are being trained on the new aspects of the system. Hardware has been evaluated and replaced as needed. Some updates of current software is also be implemented.
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If there are any questions or concerns, Tribal Health asks recipients to call Yvonne Conko, Tribal Health, at 406-745-3525 ext. 5021.
Tribal Health of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes provides comprehensive health care services to recipients including audiology/speech; behavioral health; dental; medical; nursing; optical; pharmacy; physical therapy; radiology; and wellness across a rich network on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Tribal Health is dedicated to a promise that every Tribal Health recipient receives high-quality health care grounded in tribal values— supporting each recipient’s journey of “Being in a Good Way."