Epic, an electronic medical record system, is now in use at Scott & White hospitals in Temple and clinics throughout Bell County, which means the information technology people who coordinated the program’s launch on Saturday can step back and make room for Scott & White patients as they set up their MyChart.
MyChart is a way to manage personal health care online with a computer, or with an app for smart phones and tablets. Scott & White patients can now access their lab results, appointment information, medications, immunizations and more.
“We’ve been using Epic for the last couple of days and there’s a learning curve like everything else,” said Dr. John Joseph II, family medicine physician at Scott & White Clinic in Killeen.
Since the launch, physicians, nurses and staff are still learning to check the appropriate boxes required to navigate the new
electronic medical records system.
“It’s slow right now because we’re learning, but I think the benefits will be tremendous,” Joseph said.
Prescribing medications is simplified and the system can prevent medical errors, he said. Patients can securely email their physician with MyChart and include a photo if needed.
“You can say, ‘I just woke up this morning with this big rash on my face,’ and include a photo of the rash with the email,” said Dr. Jeana O’Brien, chief medical information officer for Scott & White Healthcare System.
It’s also a way for the patient to tell the physician the medication that was recently prescribed is working, said Matthew Chambers, chief information officer for Baylor Scott & White.
If a physician asked a patient to record blood pressure or blood sugars over a period of time, the email access through MyChart is a good way to get that information to the doctor and into the individual’s records, O’Brien said.
A medication renewal tab enables the patient to inform their doctor’s office if a prescription will run out before their next appointment.
Appointments with a patient’s regular physician can be made and canceled.
However, the patient must have seen their physician since the launch of Epic on Feb. 1 before scheduling an appointment using MyChart is possible, she said.
When making appointments, the system will only show available times. Same-day appointments have to be made by phone. A drop-down menu allows the patient to specify what type of appointment is needed — follow-up, annual physical or other.
Notifications of upcoming appointments will come via email, or the patient’s method of choice, informing the patient to log on to MyChart to see the message.
As new medical information becomes part of an individual’s electronic record through Epic, the system will send out reminders to patients for needed health maintenance screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, O’Brien said.
A proxy access allows parents to see information from their children’s records, including prescribed medications and immunizations.
There also is proxy access that can be used by individuals who need to see an elderly parent’s scheduled appointments, look at their medications and communicate with the physician.
Bills can be reviewed and paid online, and a health library is available on MyChart.
“Thousands of MyChart accounts have been activated in the Temple region,” Chambers said.
MyChart is password-protected and delivered through an encrypted connection.