HHS’ new hospital information system will be game-changing for patients and their caregivers
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is less than a year away from launching Epic, a fully digital health information system (HIS) that will enable more integrated, patient-centred health care. Rita Pugliese is an HHS patient advisor who sits on one of the workgroups dedicated to making decisions about how Epic will be used to provide digital and virtual care.
Excited for the future
A life-long resident of Hamilton and the primary caregiver for several family members, Pugliese is excited about how Epic will transform the patient and caregiver experience by making health records more accessible. “We need a platform that will better support patients and caregivers,” she says, adding that digital health care is the way of the future.
The future of health care is paperless
Pugliese spends a lot of time at several HHS sites providing support to her children, husband and father-in-law, often carrying Ziploc bags of medications, binders of printed emails, and handwritten notes with her from appointment to appointment. She looks forward to the day when patients and providers will have all the information they need at their fingertips in a digital format.
“Right now, I’m filing emails and asking for doctors’ business cards so I can stay organized, but in the future, all of that information will be stored in Epic,” she says. Another benefit she’s looking forward to is improved communication within the patient’s care team. “Everyone will be able to see the communication history and care will be seamless,” adds Pugliese.
The value of a patient’s perspective
When asked why she wants to be a part of HHS’ journey to becoming a fully digital hospital, Pugliese’s answer is simple: she wants to help HHS understand how Epic can improve the patient and caregiver’s experience. “I truly believe our health care system is wonderful, you just need to know how to navigate it. Epic is a platform that will help make it easier for everyone.”
Simple changes like being able to download appointments to smartphone calendars and update personal health information, like medications and allergies, before appointments will be “game-changing,” says Pugliese. She believes the impact for working parents will be huge, too. “What if you can’t take time off work to accompany your child to an appointment and you send grandma with them instead,” she says. “Epic will allow you to stay up-to-date on your child’s care, even if you can’t be there in-person.”
Behind-the-scenes of transforming health care
Pugliese is grateful that she can be part of building HHS’ new HIS, and for everything she’s learning about health care along the way. “It’s a complex system and I don’t think people realize how many aspects of the hospital will be impacted by this change,” she says, referring to HHS’ many clinical and administrative policies, procedures and workflows. “There are also way more departments within the hospital than I ever thought!”
Staff, providers and patient advisors are working together to build HHS’ Epic system, which will go live in June 2022.