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Central Oregon hospitals, including St. Charles Madras, are now using an electronic record system.

HOLLY M. GILL - St. Charles Madras, along with other Central Oregon hospitals and clinics, has updated to a new electronic health record system.St. Charles Health System went live with a new electronic health record system April 7, bringing a new online portal to its patients.

The transition brought the health system's four hospitals and family care, immediate care and specialty care clinics under the same umbrella for patient records, care delivery processes, registration and billing.

"The benefits of Epic (Systems) will be felt throughout Central Oregon," said Joe Sluka, president and CEO of St. Charles Health System. "The improvement in the quality and coordination of patient care are a long-term investment in the health of our community."

The new patient portal, MyChart, will enable St. Charles patients to access their health records online or through a mobile application, view test results, book appointments with family care clinics and pay bills online. St. Charles is also piloting an "e-visit" program at its family care clinic in Prineville, as well as self-check-in tablets at three pilot sites.

In the long term, St. Charles plans to leverage the Epic Systems health care software to serve its mission of "creating America's healthiest community, together." The health system will track performance indicators to measure the efficiency of the system and impact on patient care.

"Epic brings us all onto the same page across the system and gives us access to data and tools that will serve population health improvement," said Dr. Jim Guyn, St. Charles' vice president of population health. "Empowering patients with the MyChart patient portal and improving communication across the system gives us more opportunity for innovation and patient-centered care."

In addition to improving communication across the health system, Epic will improve communication among providers across the country. Epic is one of the most widely used interoperability platforms at large hospitals, allowing patients' medical data to move with them wherever they're seen for care. This means visitors to Central Oregon can pull information from their home clinics, and those clinics can in turn pull information from St. Charles.

The health system has spent the final few months of its Epic implementation preparing operations for the changes in process that the new electronic health record system brings.

The Epic implementation team at St. Charles is a collaboration between IT, operations and support services, along with consultants who have prior experience with Epic go-lives.

The project kicked off in September 2016 with an analysis of current processes at St. Charles. More than 300 St. Charles caregivers weighed in on the workflows they will be using at go-live and opted to transition to Epic's "Foundation System" of best practices in more than 90 percent of cases.

Preparing to change and standardize processes across the entire system involved hundreds of hours of "operational readiness" planning and practicing.

"Our caregivers will change the way they do their work on April 7," said Iman Simmons, chief operating officer at St. Charles. "When we follow evidence-based standard work in every department at every facility, we enhance patient safety and the quality of care. Epic gives us more tools to support continuous improvement and do what is best for our patients and community."

About St. Charles Health System

St. Charles Health System Inc., of Bend, owns and operates St. Charles Bend, Madras, Prineville and Redmond. It also owns family care clinics in Bend, Madras, Prineville, Redmond and Sisters.

St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon, with more than 4,200 caregivers. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with the health system to provide a wide range of care and service to local communities.

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