By Jeff Helfrich
ROCHELLE — Rochelle Community Hospital is currently in the midst of a 10-month implementation of a new electronic health record system, RCH CEO Gregg Olson said.
The system is called Epic and is made by a Wisconsin-based company. Epic doesn’t typically work with smaller hospitals like RCH, but Olson said the hospital was able to acquire the system through Pointcore, a retail division of OSF Healthcare.
“In my opinion and a lot of people's opinion, Epic is the gold standard,” Olson said. “They control about 67 percent of the market. I want to say 72 percent of people in the country have touched Epic in some way. They're huge. And they're very good.”
The Epic system will replace two electronic health record systems that Olson said were installed at the hospital in 2011 or 2012. One of RCH’s current systems covers the hospital business and the other operates its clinic. Olson said those systems “don’t get along very well.” Both the clinic and the hospital will use Epic after installation.
Olson said putting reports together with RCH’s current systems takes a lot of time and is expensive. Epic will also allow RCH to be compatible with other hospitals and medical facilities around the world and country.
“One hit of the keyboard with Epic can send patient information,” Olson said. “Today, I have to fax and scan information to those providers. The big systems aren't used to that anymore. It's just clumsy and old school. We're fortunate to have access to a product that's well designed and user-friendly for staff and providers.”
RCH hopes to start using epic on May 1, 2022, which would be the start of its new fiscal year, Olson said. He said the installation process is “a lot of work” and there are many aspects to it including the patient care side and the financial side.
“This is a big thing,” Olson said. “This is going to be an enhancement to our patients. I think we can provide better care. We can have that information at our fingertips. It gives everyone more information on what we're dealing with and that's always a better way to be. We know at the end of the day when this is completed, our people will be very happy with it."
Recently-graduated and future doctors are trained on Epic, Olson said, 91 percent of them are using Epic during residency programs, he said. That could help RCH attract prospective employees in the medical field that are used to working with it.
Olson said he’s most excited about the ease of the applications and the ability to interact with other systems. The Epic system costs “millions” for RCH to license, he said.
“It's a huge investment,” Olson said. “I am so blessed that I have such a supportive board. Asking a board to spend millions of dollars is not an easy thing to do. I think we did it the right way and took our time. It took a lot of meetings."
Olson said RCH is proud to be an independent organization that is governed locally by its board. But for it to stay competitive with larger hospitals in the area, RCH has to stay on the cutting edge, he said.
“For us to continue our path and grow and thrive, we have to be there,” Olson said. “We have to be competent, provide excellent service and be compassionate. In order to do that, we have to provide the best products out there.”