Meritus makes big software switch

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — In the past month, Meritus Medical Center and the practices of Meritus Medical Group have switched to a comprehensive medical record system called “Epic.”

Epic is the most widely used in the United States. It integrates patient information into one platform for more efficient, quality care.

“Our medical staff and employees have dedicated a significant amount of time during the past two years to evaluate options and select the system that best suits the needs of our patients and providers,” Joseph P. Ross, president and CEO of Meritus Health, said in a news release. “This change will transform the patient’s experience, but with any transition, there are challenges. We ask that for the next month, patients are understanding and come prepared for greater than expected wait times.”

Meritus reports that it has taken several steps to help staff members and practitioners cope with the change.

Since the system went live on Sept. 1, physicians and staff have had access 24/7 to expert technical advisors through a command center on the hospital campus. ATE (for “at-the-elbow” support personnel and “super users” can be found on hospital units and in departments throughout the health system to provide colleagues with on-the-spot help, according to Meritus spokeswoman Joelle Butler.

The dedicated support team includes Meritus Health employees from the information technology department, as well as Epic personnel from across the country. In addition, it includes a team of experts from Mercy Technology Services, part of Mercy Health System, an Epic software-as-a-service or SaaS-accredited provider and Gold Star awardee as a top electronic health records user.

Daily team huddles and electronic messaging have helped celebrate the wins and identify the opportunities with the transition, Butler reported.

More than 1,000 patients have already signed up for MyChart, a free and secure, online portal offering digital access to their health information.

MyChart offers a place for patients to communicate with providers, schedule appointments and pay bills. Meritus is encouraging people to sign up for the service at MyChart.meritushealth.com.

In addition, regional, urban and community hospitals, health systems and physician offices that use the Epic system are able to collaborate and communicate on a single platform to help improve patient care.

“Our patients will be better able to manage their own health care and know that there is improved communication and collaboration among all their health providers,” Ross said. “Our goal is to help individuals pursue optimal wellness while proactively improving the health of our entire community. It’s a true win.”