Epic EMR

By DISC Corporation | September 1, 2022

Epic EMR streamlines many parts of health information management (HIM). But when you first make the switch from another electronic medical record system (EMR), it can be difficult. 

At DISC, we’ve helped organizations of all sizes transition to Epic. And we’ve noticed some common challenges that many of them face. These typically include:

  • New indexing processes have to be established.
  • There are multiple document type levels.
  • Documents must be matched to orders and encounters when indexing.
  • Epic does not have its own internal document management system.
  • Epic document types include an open-text field.

We recommend learning about each of these challenges before they become an issue. That way, you can prepare your organization for what lies ahead. Below, you’ll find a bit more information to help you get started.

#1: Epic EMR requires new indexing processes

Manual indexing takes longer with Epic because there are more steps for filing each document. That means indexing becomes an even larger part of your team’s workload than it already is. 

This extra indexing time may stretch your staff too thin. Some organizations hire additional HIM staff or reallocate existing team members to cover the increased workload. But it’s not always an option.

Others choose to outsource their record indexing to an automated service, like SmartFiler. Even with a sizable HIM team, automated workflows and expert support allow these organizations to achieve a smooth transition to Epic.

#2: Epic uses multiple document type levels

Epic organizes document types into three levels: Order Level, Encounter Level, and Patient Level. 

Patient Level includes any information specific to the patient. Whereas Encounter Level is reserved for anything related to a specific visit. Order Level, on the other hand, is specific to any information related to a physician’s order. 

For example, a patient’s insurance information is added to the Patient Level. Notes from a patient’s visit belong in the Encounter Level. And lab orders or tests are considered Order Level. 

Improper level identification creates inconsistencies that increase patient risk. It also means patient records must be corrected and re-indexed, adding more tasks to your team’s workload.

#3: Documents must be matched to orders and encounters

Orders must be matched to documents at the Order Level and Encounter Level. This helps close the loop and keep patient records complete. But these additional steps and clicks add time for your team.

For example, when a specialty clinic sends patient notes and treatment recommendations, your HIM staff must open the patient record, confirm the order, and create a link to each document. While it’s usually a simple process, the additional clicks can add up fast.

#4: Epic EMR doesn’t have an internal document management system

Unlike other EMRs, Epic does not come with a document management system. Organizations often purchase add-on software, such as Hyland’s OnBaseTM, for their staff to use. This can be the most efficient option for your team’s indexing processes.

Anticipate the need for this type of additional software and allocate enough budget and training time to implement it. Take the time to do this right. Don’t rush the learning process. That often leads to problems down the line.

#5: Epic document types include an open-text field

Epic EMR provides a dropdown menu for defining a document type and an open-text field to describe it. While helpful for adding details, open text leads to typos and mistakes. 

This creates inconsistent data that skews search results and increases patient risk. To avoid that, we recommend implementing a governance strategy that standardizes inputs to avoid variation throughout your organization. 

Once your governance strategy is successfully implemented, make sure it’s maintained and reviewed periodically. That way, you can recalibrate strategies as needed to keep data accurate and consistent. 

SmartFiler helps navigate these challenges

SmartFiler is a technology-enabled service that can help your organization make the switch to Epic. With strategic support and coaching, you’re better equipped to navigate the challenges that lie ahead. Our automated indexing software is supported by a team of experts to make sure documents are filed in as little as 4 hours with up to 99.99% accuracy. 

Contact DISC to learn more about how SmartFiler can help your healthcare organization transition to Epic.

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