Why Northwell switched to Epic Systems: Q&A with CIO Sophy Lu

As New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based Northwell Health seeks to transform patient, clinician and team member experience using technology, the health system chose to move to Epic as the vendor could streamline medical records as well as financials and operational information into a single product, Sophy Lu, CIO of the health system told Becker's

On March 21, Northwell, one of New York state's largest healthcare providers, said it would be switching from Allscripts to Epic Systems. Becker's spoke to Ms. Lu about the why behind the move and the benefits it would provide to Northwell. 

Question: Why did Northwell choose Epic? Was it considering any other vendors?

Sophy Lu: Northwell selected Epic because it's a market leader in the EHR space. The user-friendly platform is designed for large integrated health systems. It was important to us to be able to streamline clinical records as well as financials and operational insight into a whole single product. Ultimately, this means one patient record across the care delivery continuum.

Northwell did consider other vendors but Epic's reinvestment into the product’s research and development and its dominance in the New York Metro market were significant factors in the decision-making process.

Q: Why did Northwell decide to switch from Allscripts? What was one of the biggest factors for the switch?

SL: As Northwell continues to evolve with the ever-changing healthcare landscape, we want to ensure that our digital capabilities differentiate us from our competitors.

To accomplish this easily, and with a focus on the needs of our patient, clinician and operational experience, it was clear that we must simplify and modernize the technologies our constituents use day to day. The EHR was at the core of that, and a foundational step forward in our digital strategy.

Q: Northwell said the Epic switch aims to "make patient and staff experience more seamless," how will the new EHR system do this?

SL: Epic is a single seamless electronic health record system. At every touchpoint in the continuum of care, clinicians and front-line staff can easily access a 360 view of the patient; and the patient has an easy experience to engage care, access and share information; and pay for care.  The system will enable Northwell to streamline integrated clinical workflows, revenue cycle operations, and data driven insights to better care for our communities.

Q: Northwell is implementing the Epic System in phases, can you walk me through what that will look like?

SL: Northwell is approaching the new implementation by minimizing financial risks, while also optimizing the benefits of a holistic end-to-end transformation of patient engagement, operational workflow, and staff movement. 

For Northwell, we will be implementing across the continuum of care by regions: this includes hospitals, ambulatory, homecare, hospice, and long-term care.

Q: Implementation doesn't come without challenges, how will Northwell prepare staff for the system switch?

SL: Northwell establishes structures for governance with executive leadership and operational teams in order to strengthen an one system decision and workforce readiness. We also start planning for continual change management, communications, and learning strategies day one.  It is critical to engage the workforce, and voices of the customers throughout the implementation for successful adoption and best use of all the capabilities the new EHR can offer.

Q: What excites you most about the new system?

SL: I am excited to enhance the connectedness of our integrated system delivery and bring joyful experiences at every touchpoint, while also being able to simplify and consolidate the technology foundations. This is a part of our digital transformation strategy along with leveraging the power of data insights and personalizing experiences to raise health for all.

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