Doctors are going digital
HHS is in the final phase of preparing to launch a new digital hospital information system called Epic. This Doctors’ Day, we are celebrating all our physicians for their part in creating this transformational change at our organization. We spoke with four of the HHS physicians who have been heavily involved in Epic planning to hear more about the benefits to them and their patients. We also asked about memorable ways that patients say thank you. On May 1, and every day, take a moment to thank the doctors who care for you.
Dr. Ann Marie Chen
McMaster University Medical Centre Labour and Delivery/Women’s Health program and Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Colposcopy Clinic
With Epic, I am most looking forward to being able to access the entire patient chart at anytime from anywhere. By being able to see a patient’s vitals, progress, outstanding issues or results, I will be able to provide more timely and comprehensive care.
“I will be able to provide more timely and comprehensive care.”
Epic and MyChart will allow my patients to be more engaged in their own care as they will see test results and consults as soon as they are complete.
The most memorable way a patient has said thank you: The highest compliment that I can receive is when a new patient says that they were referred to me because I took care of their friend or relative and they felt I provided great care. This really shows that those patients value the care I provide.
Dr. Alex Drossos
McMaster Children’s Hospital and Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre Child and Youth Mental Health Program (CYMHP)
I also work at the De dwa da dehs nye>s Aboriginal Health Centre in Hamilton/Brantford/Niagara and doing clinical work in Nunavut, both as a consulting psychiatrist.
I am the Physician Lead for Psychiatry for the Odyssey project and I am also a Specialty Trainer for Mental Health/Psychiatry providers. Prior to this role, I was the virtual care lead for psychiatry and CYMHP from before the pandemic but also through the ramp up period of the pandemic.
“MyChart will make the virtual care experience even better.”
I’m very excited about moving forward, or really into the present. This has been a long time coming at HHS. Having a hospital-wide electronic medical record, that is also the same one used by our St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton colleagues, will be a huge step for improved patient care and clinical outcomes, not to mention patient safety. I’m also just really excited about having only one system to log into now, Epic, rather than four or five.
Logging in via our phone and iPad apps will make things far easier, especially when on call or logging in remotely. We’ll be able to quickly review our patients and their charts, place orders and use the SecureChat function to communicate with our fellow staff and colleagues in a secure manner.
A big benefit to our patients will be the use of integrated Epic’s MyChart. Our team relies heavily on virtual care visits and MyChart will make the virtual care experience even better. Patients and their families will also have additional information at their fingertips. This will then translate to greater efficiency for clinicians, in addition to improved patient safety.
In terms of meaningful demonstrations of gratitude, I would say in mental health it’s the small acts of kindness from patients and families when they say thank you. We hear it regularly from parents and caregivers, but perhaps less often from patients. So when one of my adolescent patients says something directly in terms of being thankful for my help, it goes a long, long way. This is especially true through the pandemic when the volumes and severity of mental health concerns in children and youth has increased significantly, playing strain on the entire system.
Dr. Laura Nguyen
Hamilton General Hospital Department of Surgery
With Epic, I am most excited about having one unified chart for each patient, plus having MyChart to be able to make all of this information easily accessible to patients. I think this will really allow patients to feel empowered and involved in their health and will improve communication between physicians, and between physicians and their patients!
I am expecting Epic to make my life easier in many ways. One way that I am most looking forward to is the ability to use note templates and dictation tools to efficiently document patient encounters. I think physicians will spend less time charting, but will have higher quality documentation and notes compared to our current state.
“Epic and MyChart will not change my goal to provide high quality, individualized care to patients.”
Epic and MyChart will not change my goal to provide high quality, individualized care to patients, but will allow me to provide this care more efficiently and to modernize the way we communicate with patients. I look forward to using MyChart to provide patients with written information to reinforce the verbal discussions we have, for example when giving post-op recovery instructions.
In terms of thank-yous, a patient once wrote me a lovely, rhyming, funny poem about my surgical skills after I treated his bladder cancer, and framed it for me. It is on a shelf in my office and it makes me smile whenever I see it.
I always appreciate when patients take the time to tell me how my care has positively impacted their lives. After placing a sling for stress incontinence, a patient made sure to tell me at her follow-up visit that she really felt this had changed her life. She said she didn’t realize that she had been holding back laughing for fear of leaking urine, but that in the weeks since surgery she had had her first real deep belly laughs in years. Hearing these specific examples about how her quality of life had improved was a great reminder of our ability to make a real difference to our patients and what a privilege it can be to just do our jobs!
Dr. Alim Pardhan
Emergency/Pediatric Emergency Physician
Hamilton General Hospital, Juravinksi Hospital, McMaster Children’s Hospital Emergency Departments
I think Epic will be a game-changer for patient care. It will make patient information easier to access for everyone involved in care, will streamline many of our existing processes and bring HHS into the 21st century. As anyone I work with will attest to, I have amazing handwriting (I 100% do not), so electronic documentation will make charting and order writing easier, more legible and safer.
In the Emergency Department (ED), we are often trying to make decisions for patients with incomplete or imperfect information. If patients are in our system already, Epic will improve our ability to access necessary patient information quickly and easily.
“Electronic documentation will make charting and order writing easier, more legible and safer.”
For patients who have been through the ED, it can be challenging to remember everything that happened in the hospital. So for them and their family members, being able to see their medical information in MyChart afterwards will be very helpful.
Getting a thank you from patients in the ED is rare. People often come to see us on one of the worst days of their lives, so understandably it is not uncommon for them to not remember the ED team in their travel through the health care system. Getting a thank you to the ED team through a call or email to patient experience, a card or a tweet goes a long way to help with ED morale, particularly now when resources system-wide are stressed. Having received a few of these, it is incredibly gratifying to myself and the team to know that people remember the excellent care they receive in the ED.