The Mayo Clinic – the world’s original and largest integrated not-for-profit medical group clinic – has spent $1.5 billion in a new HIPAA compliant EHR system. The Mayo Clinic opted for Epic, a leading EHR provider whose systems are used to store and maintain the electronic health records of more than 190 million clients.
Up until recently, the Mayo Clinic has been implementing three EHR systems, provided by General Electric and Cerner Corp. The new EHR system – an integrated electronic medical record and billing database – will see those three systems joined into one.
$1.5 billion is a sizable investment, but it was required. Operating three separate EHR systems is problematic. It means staff need to learn how to work multiple systems, inefficiencies are introduced that are difficult to address, and multiple systems inevitably lead to interoperability issues that can hamper collaboration. The new single HIPAA compliant EHR system will help the Mayo Clinic store, use, and share patient health information more efficiently and better interact with its patients.
The single HIPAA compliant EHR system will store all patient records and will be used to store, access, and send health data from all of the Mayo Clinic facilities. The new system will be used for all things from consultations to recording medications, details of allergies, and physician’s case comments, as well as for billing. When the system is up and running, patients will receive a uniform bill for medical services, regardless of where they reside and which Mayo Clinic facilities they attended.
Planning the upgrade first began in early 2015. It has taken more than 24 months to reach the point where the new system can be put live. The Epic EHR rollout is not simple for an organization the size of the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic has more than 200,000 patient records, multiple campuses, and facilities based across several states. The company also has over 51,000 members of staff, all of whom will need to be shown how to use of the new system. Understandably, the rollout has been planned to take place over several months.
That process has now begun. The Mayo Clinic changed to the new EHR system in its La Crosse, Onalaska, Prairie du Chien and Sparta centers in Wisconsin on July 8, which will allow the organization to complete comprehensive tests before rolling out the new HIPAA compliant EHR system to all of its centers in the United States.
The next phase of the rollout, scheduled to take place this November, will see the Mayo Clinic Health System sites in Minnesota change to the new EHR system, followed by the Rochester, MN facility in May 2018 and its Arizona and Florida centers in October 2018.
The phased rollout is not without its issues. Until all centers change to the new single HIPAA compliant EHR system, physicians in one center will not automatically be able to view records on the Epic system stored in another center. To get around the issue, the Mayo Clinic is using separate software to allow the information to be seen.
The massive migration has been given the titles ‘The Plummer Project,’ after Dr. Henry Plummer, the pioneer of the consolidated medical record. Plummer, an early advocate at the Mayo Clinic, recognized the issues that come from storing patient health records in multiple centers. At the time, each medical center would store patient health information in a ledger. A separate ledger was managed at each facility, so a patient may have their health data spread across several ledgers, stored in multiple centers.
Plummer came up with a new way of recording patient health information – A single dossier-style medical record system with patient records maintained in a central location. Each time information was recorded, it was included on the dossier. The new system was begun on July 1, 1907, over 110 years ago.
Plummer also worked closely in hand with the company’s founders, the Mayo brothers, and came up with a new organizational structure termed the integrated multispecialty group practice. This method of supplying care allowed patients to be tended to by a team of specialists, a major contribution to modern medicine.
Plummer also helped put in place a method of transferring information from one treatment area to another, using a system of pneumatic tubes to send patient records to where they were required.