Researcher who exposed Flint water crisis says it 'wouldn't have been possible without Epic'

Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, recently visited Epic's headquarters in Verona, Wis., to discuss her research — which is largely credited with uncovering the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

As a pediatrician at the city's Hurley Medical Center, Dr. Hanna-Attisha suspected lead might be contaminating water in the area, which children were drinking. When county and state health departments declined to share health data with her, she turned to the hospital's Epic EHR to investigate her hypothesis.

Based on an analysis of EHR data, she found that the levels of lead in children's blood had increased since the city's water supply switched to a new water source in 2014. Her discovery — which demonstrated the city water's lead contamination — pushed Flint into the national spotlight.

Dr. Hanna-Attisha wrote a book, titled What the Eyes Don't See, about her work to bring public attention to the Flint water crisis.

"Epic is a character in this book," she said while speaking to Epic's staff. "This research wouldn’t have been possible without Epic." She added that without the EHR, the study would have "taken months, possibly years. It would have been painstaking work, reviewing paper chart by paper chart by hand."

Hurley Medical Center is now working to create a Flint Registry in their Epic EHR that will track patients' exposure to lead and connect them with community resources to help them stay healthy.

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