‘Epic’ software system comes to Oakwood, first of its kind in southeast Michigan

Healthcare System

Oakwood nurses Nick Jentz (left) and Erica Ellul listen to nurse Steve Nolff on Feb. 28 near the new EPIC equipment.

Sunday Times Newspapers

Southeast Michigan doctors and nurses soon won’t have to worry about whether their penmanship is legible because of a new software system set to launch Aug. 1.

Oakwood Healthcare System plans to transition to Epic Systems Corp. a Wisconsin-based information technology comany.

Epic Electronic Medical Records is the first online program in southeast Michigan that will hold all patient information in one location, Oakwood media personnel said.

The data from an Intensive Care patient monitor, ventilator and other medical data, will be transferred directly into the electronic medical record.

“All of that information is put directly into the electronic medical records and it is immediately available for the physicians and the nurses and the staff that need to access those vital signs to see how their patients are doing,” said Dr. Matthew Zimmie Oakwood Healthcare Inc. Medical Director of Information Technology.

Oakwood plans to shell out $80 million over the next two years to transition to the Epic software system. And the electronic medical records will not be limited to only computers or mobile carts. Laptops,iPads and other devices will work with the software.

“From my office I can look and see how my patient is actively doing,” Zimmie said. “And even from vacation if I have Internet connection I can see how my patients are doing.”

The medical software will be used first at Oakwood Hospital and Medical Center, 18101 Oakwood Blvd. The other Oakwood locations will follow and use Epic at a later date.

Another new Epic online medical service is the Bluetooth scanner. Patients will begin wearing barcode wristbands that are scanned by nurses, showing them patient information. The barcode wristband will contain medication and demographic information.

Erica Ellul, Oakwood Healthcare Prgressive Care Unit staff nurse, said the scanner is a safety mechanism that displays on the computer a patient’s medication frequency and dosage, among other software features.

“It just makes my job easier,” Ellul said. “I get to spend more time with the patient at the bedside … everything is right here in front of me.”

Several locations in Michigan are already using Epic: Royal Oak based William Beaumont Hospitals, the University of Michigan Health Systems in Ann Arbor, Henry Ford Hospital and Metro Health in Grand Rapids, among others.

Oakwood Dr. Alan Brockhurst said the Epic software system is going to add to the efficiency and sort of streamline the system already in place.

“Currently we deal with paper charts and there is sort of a delay just becuase of the logisticis of getting orders to different places,” Brockhurst said. “With Epic, everything is going to be one chart. Everyone has access to it. Orders can be placed in the hospital real time.”

Oakwood Dr. Eliezer DeLeon agreed.

“I think what is the key there is the dynamic of the space as we treat patients every day there has been a change in in terms of approaching medical diseases,” DeLeon said. “There is going to be a dynamic integration and updates. Physicians and medical care services will be on time … updated.”

Photo courtesy Oakwood Healthcare System

Oakwood Nurse Nick Jentz (left) and Medical Director Matthew Zimmie look at EPIC equipment as Jentz scans a sample barcode with patient information.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)