In February of 2020, all Maine Behavioral Healthcare patient records were officially integrated to a new shared electronic health system called Epic. The shift took place after years of planning and anticipation, and as part of an ongoing MaineHealth system-wide initiative. The benefits of the transition were plentiful: providing patients with all of their health records – both medical and behavioral – in one place, with streamlined reporting to provide clarity and accountability for care team members. The transition was a huge undertaking, and not without its challenges.
Chief Medical Information Officer Colin Lamb, MD
With a launch date that landed in the middle of a global pandemic, the act of transitioning thousands of patient records to Epic was extremely complex. The process required a dedicated leader, Chief Medical Information Officer Colin Lamb, MD, to guide the organization cohesively through the process, all while maintaining behavioral health regulations and strict confidentiality.
Prior to Dr. Lamb assuming this role, the organization never had a physician leader for such a technologically-focused area. Dr. Lamb proved to be a crucial connection between the clinical care team and information technology departments in achieving the unification of several systems and operational workflows into one, all while ensuring that patients never experienced gaps in their care.
“The Wave 7 Epic Go Live was not quite like anything MaineHealth had tackled before,” Dr. Lamb explained. “It was a very complex project given the variety of behavioral health services we provide across such a wide geographic region; not to mention the confidentiality considerations and unique regulatory requirements in behavioral health care.”
In addition to participating in hours of cross-department planning, design and strategy meetings ahead of the reintegration, Dr. Lamb was heavily involved in the development and execution of training curriculum for hundreds of employees. Establishing an organization-wide virtual training program, which would typically take place through in-person and hands-on group classes, was a challenge in itself.
“The pandemic certainly added additional challenges including needing to pivot to virtual training and virtual launch support for the first time at MaineHealth,” he noted.
The remote support system allowed for collaboration of team members located across a large geographic area.
We are grateful for the dozens of team members throughout Maine Behavioral Healthcare and MaineHealth who spearheaded our transition to Epic and for the care team members who dedicated their time and effort to learning the new system. Having a system-wide shared medical record is vital to providing accountable care; and the integration further solidifies the message that behavioral health is critical to overall wellbeing.
The transition to Epic for behavioral health has the added advantage of providing patients with access to all of their records through MyChart. With MyChart you can access test results, pay bills, communication with providers and much more.