Aspirus upgrades to premier, state-of-the-art electronic health records system

LAURIUM – Aspirus is all about making every part of the health care experience the best it can possibly be. One way Aspirus patients are seeing this happen is through quicker, safer, easier access to health records that improves how information works for patients and providers alike. With the implementation of a new, state-of-the-art electronic health records (EHR) system called Epic, Aspirus is taking health care to a higher level for the community. Epic provides a completely secure, seamless exchange of medical information between doctors, nursing staff and patients. Epic also allows patients to access their medical records, request appointments, refill prescriptions, review test results and communicate electronically with their health care team, all online.

“Epic is recognized across the health care industry as the gold-standard of electronic health records systems. It allows us to have open and honest communication with our patients, while allowing them to access their own medical records from home or office, and take an active role in their care,” said Aspirus Clinic Manager Denise Draves. “Everything is completely secure. Not only does it eliminate the paper flow associated with traditional charts, but it allows patients to make better, more informed decisions in their care.”

Three of the four Aspirus Upper Peninsula hospitals and their associated clinics have upgraded to the Epic system. The new Aspirus Iron River location is slated for an Epic conversion in the near future. The implementation took more than 18 months of planning, hundreds of computer installations and thousands of hours of extensive training and support for staff. As a system, Aspirus brought technology specialists from across the U.P. and Wisconsin to support the upgrade and changeover to Epic. Most importantly, the changeover was completed with little impact to patient flow and care.

Being linked to the Epic system brings many benefits to patients and providers of Aspirus. Doctors and medical staff can communicate in real-time with other Aspirus locations and many health care facilities around the world. Using the online portal called MyAspirus, patients can request appointments, refill and track medications, and review test results directly. Having access to test results further reinforces their understanding after having discussed the outcome with their medical team. Providers and nursing staff all work from the same, most current information chart, meaning the best information is always available. Having immediate access to the most updated charts enables doctors to more easily make medical decisions and provide the best care much faster.

Patient information relating to recent doctor visits can also be accessed using MyAspirus.

“Any discharge instructions your doctor gives you can also be accessed online,” Draves said. “Say for example, your doctor wants you to gargle with salt water for so many days after your visit, you can find those instructions on there as well.”

To sign up for MyAspirus, Draves said patients need to visit their primary clinic to receive an access code. The access code is used to create a personal user ID and password. MyAspirus allows patients the ability to review medications, immunizations, allergies, medical history and more. With online access to their clinic offices, patients can eliminate phone tag by simply sending an email and waiting for a response.

Aspirus Houghton Clinic Manager Mandy Shelast said the patient response to Epic and MyAspirus has been overwhelmingly positive. A feature that has become increasingly helpful for family members and caretakers of elderly patients, is having proxy access to medical information.

“Children who have elderly parents can help manage their care by reviewing their medical information and following up with their doctors to ask any questions or review test results,” she said. “Sometimes it can be difficult for Mom or Dad to relay their appointment information so this is one way their children can be informed and follow up with their medical team if they need to.”

Shelast said Epic and MyAspirus truly enhances the patient-provider relationship while also improving communication. “We see a lot of patients emailing their providers so this is one way we can bring our patients one step closer,” she said.

Draves agreed, adding that the implementation of Epic is a “huge step forward” in continuously improving the patient experience. “It reinforces the patient’s understanding of their care by allowing them to log in, review their medical information and ask any questions whenever they need,” she said. “Open communication is the best form of healing. This new Epic system gives us more and more ways to help our patients stay healthy.”

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