Massive Epic go-live was intense, but made for an exciting day

Purple shirts were everywhere as the support team eased the pressure

alt textChief Information Officer Daniel Barchi joined a support team of more than 200 people at the Epic Go-Live Command Center.
Chief Information Officer Daniel Barchi joined a support team of more than 200 people at the Epic Go-Live Command Center.

Friday, February 1, was exciting—intense, sometimes stressful, but exciting.

Most ambulatory practices had reduced patient visits by half in preparation for the “big bang,” the massive Epic go-live in almost all remaining ambulatory practices and Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH). Also going live in ambulatory practices that day were Cadence and Prelude, Epic’s registration and scheduling applications, and Resolute Professional Billing.

The Epic team flipped the switch in inpatient units and at many ambulatory locations in and out of New Haven. Altogether, about 1,500 users went live on Epic. They represented some 30 practices in ten cities and towns—spanning three Connecticut counties. The switchover began at 3:18 a.m., during one of the quieter times in the hospital, after 900 patients were given new wristbands with barcodes compatible with the new electronic medical record and with administering and verifying medication at the bedside.

alt textChief Medical Information Officer Steven Schlossberg chats with support specialists at the command center.
Chief Medical Information Officer Steven Schlossberg chats with support specialists at the command center.

On Friday morning, more than 200 members of the Epic team, Information Technology Services and the Epic Corporation were at their computers in the Epic Go-Live Command Center, a large room in the 55 Park Street building, working in a help desk capacity. The team included 260 credentialed trainers, with 26 dedicated ambulatory trainers, who would be available 24/7 to solve any problems for two weeks. It helped to know your colors:

  • YNHH “Epic Team” members wore purple Epic shirts. 
  • Other Epic Team members and visitors wore temporary yellow, horizontal I.D. badges. 
  • Physician support (MDs) wore burgundy shirts 
  • “Super Users,” serving as liaisons between clinical faculty, staff and the Epic team, wore purple Epic shirts as they provided “at-the-elbow” support to faculty and staff onsite in Yale Medical Group practices. They kept in contact with the Epic project team at the command center to prioritize issues.

“The system is functioning quite well. The preparation has paid off, but there is still much work to be done,” said Steven Schlossberg, MD, chief medical information officer, as he walked around the room at 55 Park Street. Nearby was Daniel Barchi, chief information officer.

Volunteers wearing purple Helping Hands stickers visited inpatient and ambulatory areas with a rolling cart full of stress balls and snacks to share with anyone participating in the go live. They offered support, giveaways, chair-side massages and Reiki.

During a visit to the Yale Physician’s Building, a few staff members going live that day were engrossed in managing the changes, but some were already looking toward the light at the end of the tunnel. “We’re just working out the kinks,” said Patty Tinker, clinical practice manager for dermatology, “but it’s a great system, with great potential.”