Epic go-live triggers slower prescription refills at New Hampshire hospital

Staff at North Conway, N.H.-based Memorial Hospital couldn't keep up with prescription refill requests during its December transition to an Epic EHR, The Conway Daily Sun reports.

Administrators have acknowledged patient complaints about difficulties getting prescriptions refilled and said the organization has worked to resolve the issue, including establishing an "urgent refill" hotline and walk-up window at the hospital.

The problems were caused by operational issues at the hospital that surfaced during its transition to a new Epic EHR, which went live Dec. 1. As part of the transition, hospital staff had to manually transfer data from the hospital's previous health records system to its new one, the hospital confirmed to Becker's Hospital Review.

During the hospital's first month with Epic, refill requests for many prescriptions came into the new system for the first time, and each patient's information had to be checked against the old system and updated — a process that could take 10 to 15 minutes per prescription — The Conway Daily Sun reported. Coupled with the difficulties staff faced in learning a new system, refill turnarounds took several days.

A hospital spokesperson told Becker's: "The team at Memorial has made excellent progress in resolving this backlog and that the situation is well on its way toward a resolution."

"It's not inherently part of the new system, but part of double-checking the old system, making sure that data comes into the new system," Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department Medical Director and Chief Medical Information Officer Matt Dunn, DO, told the publication.

Aside from the challenges staff faced with prescription refills, Memorial Hospital officials said its transition to Epic has gone relatively well.

"There are always workflow issues when switching to a new system because you're used to doing things a certain way, and it can be challenging to learn that on a new system. You try to anticipate all these areas ahead, and sometimes after go-live, you see these issues creep up, and and you start addressing them," Dr. Dunn said. "That's sort of what happened in this scenario."

This story was updated on Nov. 18 at 3:21 p.m. to add information from Memorial Hospital and clarify that the Epic system itself did not cause the prescription refill backlog.

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