Inside Mayo's Epic Transition: Part 1

April 30, 2018 11:32 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- It's a $1.5 billion dollar medical record conversion that has been in the works for nearly three years. An epic change in both name and in scale.

Bringing expertise to all patients at all sites, that's the goal of Mayo Clinic Health Systems' Epic electronic medical record conversion that is set to go live, or launch, in just about one week.


It's become known as the Plummer Project, building off of Mayo legacy Henry Plummer who created the world's first patient-centered unified health record at Mayo more than a century ago.

Now, Mayo is replacing its three electronic record systems and consolidating them into one, and it's all in the hands of the software company Epic.

While this conversion is new to Rochester, it's one that's already happened within other Mayo Clinic campuses.

Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire, Wisconsin was the first site location to go live with a brand new patient record system.

“Before this project went live, it involved really two and a half years of planning. People from all the campuses throughout Mayo were meeting for a week a month in Rochester for a long time to design the electronic medical records,” said Dr. Richard Helmers, who is Mayo Clinic’s regional vice president of northwest Wisconsin. Dr. Helmers has been on the Plummer Project planning team since the very beginning.

“A lot of effort went into the Eau Claire go-live. Before that, we prepared for, what we call the import of the patient’s information from before. Every effort was made to have all of that information entered into the epic electronic record when the patient was first seen,” Dr. Helmers said.

One of the reasons the Eau Claire Mayo Clinic campus was chosen to go live first was because of its proximity to Epic, located in Verona, Wisconsin, near Madison.

“Many people from Verona have gotten familiar with the highways between here and Rochester and Eau Claire because most of it was spent on site throughout the enterprise by many, many Epic employees,” Helmers explained. “What we as Plummer leaders wanted to do was pick a site that had the full spectrum of care from primary care to tertiary care. We knew the staff here would make it a success.”

But being the first site comes with a lot of pressure. “The first go-live is probably going to have the most issue as far as improving things as we go,” Helmers said.

That was a top concern.  A lot of employees were worried about the fact that the Eau Claire campus had to go first. There were no previous users and none of the bugs were fixed.

“Any of the things that should have been improved or corrected, we would have the opportunity to do,” Helmers said.

So how does this $1.5 billion Epic change help patients with their electronic medical records?

“One of the biggest advantages is that every patient at whatever site they're seen gets one electronic medical record. You can see what's gone on at any other health system and once Rochester goes live that's how it will be,” said Helmers.

Doctors who have spoken to ABC 6 say there was a definite learning curve at the beginning and getting used to the new system wasn't easy. But now, nearly one year later, some are calling the update a godsend. Tasks that used to take 10 minutes now take less than 20 seconds.

“What has been particularly rewarding here is how the staff have worked so hard to make this really seamless for patients. It really brings all Mayo expertise to all Mayo patients at all sites,” Hemers said.

Mayo Clinic campuses in Arizona and Florida will be making the Epic transition this fall.

Just like any training, this one didn't come without its bumps in the road. There were some major concerns that the Eau Claire campus battled. Right now the Rochester campus is facing those issues.

Tune into ABC 6 News at 10 on Monday, May 7 for part two of Mayo's Epic transition focusing on training on the new system.


Noelle Anderson

Copyright 2019 - KAAL-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


Most Read Stories