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UVM Health Network Successfully Launches Third Phase of its Electronic Health Record

EHR system to benefit patients, providers and staff now live at Alice Hyde Medical Center, Elizabethtown Community Hospital and CVPH

Providers and patient care teams across the UVM Health Network in both Vermont and New York’s North Country are now connected via Epic, a single electronic health record (EHR) system, hospital and Health Network officials announced Wednesday, after Alice Hyde Medical Center (AHMC), Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital (CVPH), Elizabethtown Community Hospital (ECH) — including nearly 40 North Country ambulatory practices — launched the EHR on Saturday, April 2.

Patients will benefit from the integration of the system through the ability to schedule appointments, check lab and test results online, request prescription refills and more through the MyChart portal. Additionally, providers from across Network hospitals and clinics are now able to share and access information, regardless of location within the health system, enabling the ability to coordinate patient care and more accurately measure health outcomes.

After years of planning and preparation, the Network-wide transition to the EHR completed its third phase with the April 2 launch at its Northern New York hospitals and ambulatory clinics. Teams across UVM Health Network have spent hundreds of hours preparing for the system conversion and Epic credentialed trainers have helped train staff at each affiliate to adapt the new software. During the go-live transition, hundreds of support personnel have been on-site across the three hospitals, to provide direct support for care teams across inpatient and outpatient service lines.

“A unified electronic health record truly connects our Network and allows us the ability to provide a seamless experience for our patients,” said John R. Brumsted, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer of The UVM Health Network. “I am incredibly grateful to our team who made this implementation possible, and to the staff and providers who trained many hours to be able to use the system. This is a major step forward for our patients and our people.”

Hospital leaders in Northern New York called the transition impactful for both patients and hospital employees delivering care every day in the communities they serve.

“An electronic health record supports a whole new level of engagement for our facilities, our health care teams and those in our care,” said Michelle LeBeau, RN, BS, MHRM, President of both AHMC and CVPH. “I am extremely proud of the work that has been done by our people to bring this platform to all of our organizations. It will serve as the foundation from which our health network will build a truly integrated and seamless experience for both our patients and our people. Caring for the communities we serve and providing high quality care close to home is a commitment we take very seriously. The Epic EHR is a tremendous tool that will support our teams as they continue to make positive impacts on the health and wellness of people across the North Country.”

The electronic health records system, designed by Epic Systems Corp., is the most widely-used and comprehensive health records system in the United States. Previously, hospitals within UVM Health Network had used several incompatible legacy EHR systems to manage patient records. Deficiencies in those systems, and their incompatibility, caused disruptions for both patients and health care teams delivering patient care. Transitioning to one system is projected to achieve cost savings through the elimination maintaining and upgrading the former patchwork of EHR systems in operation.

“This is a major advancement for our patients and our care teams,” said Bob Ortmyer, President of ECH. “Implementing this system means our patients will have the ability to access their health record electronically and all of the providers they see will also have ready access to their health records, no matter where in our health network they are coming from, or where they ultimately receive care. Supporting more timely information-sharing among providers, and enabling patients to be more active participants in their care plans through the online portal MyChart, are important indications of how UVM Health Network is improving care for patients throughout the communities we serve.”

The multi-year transition project was first approved by the State of Vermont in 2018, and again in 2020, when the project was expanded to include EHR systems at AHMC and ECH. The project is one component of UVM Health Network’s Access Action Plan, which is aimed at reducing delays in patient access to outpatient, inpatient and specialty care, and ensuring continued access to urgent and emergency care amid record patient volumes and a nationwide health care staffing crisis.

The plan, enacted last October, includes investments in staffing, technology and infrastructure, as well as enhanced partnerships with other health care institutions and state and local governments, with the goal of hiring successfully amid the staffing shortage, reducing wait times for specialty care services, and improving hospital inpatient and emergency capacity.

The first phase of the EHR project, which kicked off in November of 2019, included full implementation at the University of Vermont Medical Center, and partial implementation at Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC), Porter Medical Center (PMC), and CVPH.

The project’s second phase, which took place in November of 2021, included full implementation of the EHR at CVMC, PMC, and Helen Porter Rehabilitation and Nursing Middlebury, Vt. That implementation expanded the hospitals’ use of Epic to patients receiving surgical services, rehabilitation, inpatient hospital and emergency department services.

The third and most recent phase of the project brings AHMC, CVPH and ECH fully onto the Epic EHR. A fourth and final phase, for UVM Health Network – Home Health & Hospice, is currently under a Certificate of Need review with the State of Vermont’s Green Mountain Care Board.