Can I get a witness? An Epic user shares her wisdom

Adriene Perry, RN, is a staff nurse in the Inova Alexandria Hospital Intensive Care Unit (ICU). She joined Inova in March from Sentara Healthcare in southeast Virginia, where she was part of the Epic transition and used the EMR system for more than a year. In this Q&A session, she discusses what nurses can expect from the EpicCare rollout.

Q: How do you feel about Inova making the transition to Epic?
A: I am so excited about this! One of the first things I asked about in my job interview with Inova was charting and documentation. I did not want to step back into a paper world! But when I learned the entire system would be transitioning to Epic, I was on board. The transition means so much in so many ways. It will save nurses valuable time that we can devote to caring for our patients. It will take nursing care and what our hospital can do for patients to another level. Inova has such top-notch nurses and clinicians with a wealth of experience; implementing Epic will make things even better.

Q: Did you have fears about Epic before you made the transition at Sentara?
A: Oh yes, everyone was skeptical. It was fear of change more than anything else. We had gone through so many computer systems before, people were afraid this was another one that
would come and go.

But that wasn’t the case. There was a firm commitment. And we had tremendous support before, during and after the implementation. We were trained on the system six months before the go-live. We had “super users” – our own Epic advocates – who were so excited about it and shared all the great things we would be able to do once it was implemented. It helped us all stay positive.

During the go-live, the super users flooded each unit to provide 24-7 support. They did such a great job helping us that within a week we were all feeling pretty comfortable with the new system.

I know it can be done here at Inova, too. And I’d hate for anyone’s apprehension about the transition to hinder what we can do.

Q: What are the benefits of the Epic system as you experienced them?
A: It is so much easier to find information, because it is all in one place. This is by far the biggest benefit. As a nurse, you are kind of an Agent 007, researching things, looking for information. Plus you are always multi-tasking – taking a report, digging through a paper chart, searching multiple computer systems. It can be a bit daunting. And information can get muddled along the way. It reminds me of the old game of Telephone: the message starts as one thing and ends up completely different! But with Epic, there is no danger of that. You have one place where you can find everything you need quickly and easily. It’s your own “cubby hole” where everything has its place.

Another great benefit is accountability. Epic makes us more accountable. If we are taking report and need to check or verify something, it is all right there to refer to in the computer.

Patient care is safer because information is less likely to slip through the cracks. So medication errors decrease, for example.

Patient care is more personal because Epic frees us up so we can really be there for our patients and take better care of them.

Epic makes things easier for our patients, too. For example, we can do medication reconciliation in the emergency room so patients don’t have to provide that information again and again. It helps them to feel “someone is listening to me.”

Q: Have you been “talking up” Epic amongst your Inova colleagues?
A: Since day one when I came to floor! I can’t stop talking about it and how it will make our jobs so much easier. If someone gets frustrated, I say “In Epic, you can do this and this and this.”

I’ve been trying to get everyone engaged in it. I remind them that our input is needed to design and build a system that is perfect for our work flow and customized for the ICU.

That’s another great benefit. Epic is large and comprehensive, but the system is very flexible and it’s easy to customize and personalize it so it works for you. If there’s a certain way you do documentation, you can create your own template – your documentation can really be yours.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to Inova staff and physicians moving forward as they make this transition to Epic?
A: Embrace the change! The thing that hinders us is fear. But if we embrace the change and participate in it, things will be better for everyone. Get involved in the planning, learn as much as can, have a positive attitude. And try to see the big picture. We are not going backward, we are going forward. This is the best thing possible for our patients and for us.

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