Memorial computer system going live at 2 a.m. Saturday

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Epic, a new computer system that came to Memorial Hospital from University of Colorado Health, will go live at 2 a.m. Saturday.

In charge at the Epic training center, Dr. Katie Markley described the intensity of the week as “controlled chaos now. It’s very intense.”

Epic will make all medical records electronic. Prior to Epic, some records were paper, and others were done on computer, Markley said.

The change has been a year in planning, said Brian Newsome, director of communications for the hospital. University of Colorado Health leased Memorial starting Oct. 1, 2012, and with that came the Epic system. All medical staff — physicians, nurses, therapists and more — spent the past year learning it.

Markley said 4,000 employees learned the system, along with 1,100 health care providers who are not Memorial employees but wish to retain medical privileges there. Epic has hosted 10,600 different sessions of classes.

Markley estimated that around 200 people have been working to train; many of them came from other University of Colorado hospitals to help with the transition.

“The Poudre Valley system went live in July” in Fort Collins and Loveland, Markley said, adding that UC Health has been on Epic for 18 months in Denver.

“The way they do just about everything will change,” Newsome said of health care professionals. He added that changes for patients will be “tremendous” and positive.

A portion of the program, called My Health Connection, is a portal that enables patients to access their medical records, see their test results, email doctors and nurses directly and refill prescriptions. First, the patient must sign up and provide an email address.

“Once this is done, they’ll be able to log in, and they’ll be able to communicate with the staff,” Markley said. “It helps when patients want to take an active part in their care. That really helps the physician. It really now becomes a whole team.

Using Epic, physicians will be able to access the patient’s full chart.

“I can’t wait for it,” Markley said. “It’s one of the great things the University of Colorado has brought to Memorial.”

A family physician, Markley works in urgent care at Memorial.

“All of UC Health will be connected to the same records,” Newsome said.

Records from patient visits to UC Health in Denver will be viewable on Memorial’s system, he said. Likewise, Memorial patients referred to UC Health in Denver need not worry about records being transferred, Newsome said. The system cost $40 million; however, UC Health has saved Memorial a bundle. Memorial’s cost was half that, Newsome said.

Having the new system “maybe wasn’t impossible without UC Health, but it would have been very difficult,” Newsome said. “One of the biggest benefits of the partnership right out of the gate was getting that installed.”

Because Poudre Valley launched earlier this year, Memorial staff is learning from their mistakes.

As a result, Memorial knows to have enough coffee for the occasion.

“At Poudre Valley, they found they didn’t have enough coffee for their go-live weekend,” Newsome said, “so we ordered 300 gallons.”