Epic's Finland project creates a comprehensive EHR that emphasizes social care plans

Inspired in part by a site visit to a Minnesota hospital, Epic is working to integrate comprehensive social care into its EHR.

That hospital has a teen pregnancy program that takes into account each mother's ability to stay in school, have a safe place to live and maintain a reliable support network to enhance her and her baby's care, which the EHR vendor took note of — care starts with the person — Emily Barey, MSN, RN, Epic's vice president of nursing and community health, explains to Becker's Hospital Review.

A comprehensive record, which Epic CEO Judy Faulkner described at the company's annual User Group Meeting in September as going "beyond the traditional walls" of the EHR, is one way to approach caring for a person while also acknowledging other aspects of the community that influence their overall health and wellbeing. Since a hospital or healthcare provider can only offer so many services, patients often turn to alternate sources, like schools or behavioral health clinics, to treat their other needs.

Ms. Barey defines comprehensive care and comprehensive health records as "really understanding who that person is and from there, being able to think not [only] about what's happening at the clinic or the hospital, but how we can support them by moving beyond the walls of the clinic or the hospital to have this really comprehensive health record that includes the community and the community's services and community providers [to] fill in those blanks."

The company is looking to expand on this work with a project based in Finland.

Four municipalities in Finland have banded together for this effort. Ms. Barey says there, the company will implement what Epic sees as the first integrated social care record — also known as a comprehensive health record — that will encompass primary care, secondary care and critical care, including social welfare, child services, elderly care, and mental health and addiction.

A key element of social care is meeting the person where they are, she emphasizes. So, Epic is updating its MyChart and expanding its mobile care tools, as it thinks about what may be helpful to social workers or home care aids in an attempt to enhance convenience as well as interoperability.

Epic is currently in the testing phase of the project, which means most of the content and workflows are complete, and its team has begun to evaluate the system's operations and ramp up its training plans. The project's go-live is scheduled for November 2018.

Ms. Barey adds that although right now the project is only set to launch in Finland, there are a number of groups in the U.S. considering implementing it as well.

"We have been doing comprehensive care planning for a long time, and we have been thinking about the needs of the population and working on these strategies, but this is really an exciting opportunity to think about really truly having a community record," she says.

So, just like that hospital in Minnesota caring for teen moms, Epic's newest approach encourages care teams to start with the person and build care plans around them.

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