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Mother holding baby in hospital bed after birth
When Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) new hospital information system – called Epic – goes live this summer, it will be a huge improvement for patients with a high-risk pregnancy, their healthcare providers and their newborns. (Stock photo)
February 25, 2022

Expecting to deliver at HHS? New hospital information system improves care for parents and newborns

Patients experiencing a high-risk pregnancy have a lot to keep track of. From additional appointments and tests to making a special care plan for baby’s arrival, the information can be overwhelming.

HHS’ McMaster University Medical Centre (MUMC) is home to one of Ontario’s largest labour and delivery programs and shares its campus with McMaster Children’s Hospital, providing seamless care for newborns who need hospital care after birth.

With the new Epic system, families and their healthcare providers will have peace of mind knowing that the parent’s medical information is available to everyone who needs to access it, even if they are in different areas of the hospital or across our organization. Plus, the plan for patient and baby is clear for everyone involved.

No more paper charts

Shasta Cividino - head and shoulders

Shasta Cividino is HHS’ clinical manager of labour and delivery

“Epic reduces the need to mine for information in many different areas,” says Shasta Cividino, clinical manager of labour and delivery. “Having one system and one chart will give the health-care team the information they need at their fingertips, at any point across the continuum of pregnancy.”

Notes and information from community healthcare providers who might not have access to Epic, such as family doctors, community obstetricians, and midwives, can be sent then scanned at the hospital and then filed into Epic, so it, too, lives in one location.

Dr. Ann Marie Chen is an obstetrician/gynecologist in the community who delivers babies at MUMC. She is looking forward to the new system, to improve the way she finds information while on call.

Dr. Ann Marie Chen is an obstetrician /gynecologist

“Now, in order to review a patient’s chart, you have to go into multiple systems to find results,” she says. “But with Epic, you can just look in once place without ever having to find the paper chart in an office – because that’s where all this information is.”

While Chen’s office won’t have the new system installed, she will still be able to view patient information, remotely submit paper orders and upload patient documents directly into Epic.

Information is accessible to the full healthcare team

Since MUMC is a tertiary centre – which means the hospital provides highly specialized staff and equipment – it’s common for patients to have more complex needs and be seen by multiple specialties.

Not only are patients visiting the hospital more often, but they are visiting different clinics. Epic will make it easier to see the big picture of a patient’s situation, where it otherwise might be hard to interpret.

Before a baby is born, the pregnant parent will come in contact with their family doctor, obstetrician/gynecologist, and perhaps teams to plan for their child’s health after birth if there are complications. The parent might require specialist support in areas outside of women’s health, such as medicine units or endocrinology, if they have another condition.

During the birthing and post-partum stage, they may receive care from doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists, lactation consultants, and social workers.

They may also meet with teams to care for their newborn, such as the neonatal intensive care unit.

And after the birth, the labour and delivery details will continue to be accessible during follow-up care.

“The frequency of outpatient visits is high in this population so there are lots of notes flying around,” says Cividino. “With Epic, notes from all different health services can be accessible when a provider needs to review them. When you have multiple providers who are influencing a patient’s outcome, it’s important to have information accessible for everyone.”

Connecting parent to baby

Currently, the parent’s chart and the baby’s chart are two separate documents that require the provider to log information individually. With Epic, the parent’s chart will be linked to the newborn’s chart, and will stay connected until the child is 12 years old.

“The connecting of the obstetrics program with our neonatal intensive care unit is instrumental, so the children’s hospital will have all the information they need to care for the critical care newborn,” says Cividino.

Providers caring for newborns will be able to access the plan that was developed by pediatric specialists and attached to the parent’s chart, even before the child is born. The child’s providers can understand what the plan for baby was and they don’t have to duplicate a care plan because they can see what the parent’s chart says.

“They can view all of the suggested tests and activities and review notes from the clinic visits of their parent,” adds Cividino. “Previously, this information was buried deep in the parent’s chart. With Epic, there is better translation of the planning done in pregnancy to the newborn care we are providing in hospital.”

MyChart

Epic will also give patients online access their own charts and their children’s charts – so they can see what their health-care team can see. They can access records, discharge summaries, delivery notes, hospital appointments and more by enrolling in MyChart, the patient portal in Epic.

MyChart by Epic is a free, secure online tool that gives patients easy access to their HHS health record anytime, from anywhere. Patients can securely view test results, enter personal health information, and attend video visits.

Patients can also enter information in the system to update medications, allergies, contact information and more.

“With Epic, the care team at MUMC will have all the information they need at their fingertips instead of having to dig for it in different charts,” says Cividino, “and parents will be able to follow along and be directly involved in their care, through the labour and delivery journey and beyond.”

HHS goes live with Epic and MyChart on June 4, 2022.