Epic trainers prepare for the first Go Live

Pilot practice will be ready to launch in October

Nat King Cole may have touted those lazy days of summer, but for the team charged with implementing the Epic electronic medical records system, August is a supercharged time. “We start our first Yale Medical Group (YMG) training sessions in the middle of the month,” said AnnMarie Garrett, principal trainer for the outpatient clinic application that will be used throughout YMG.

Epic is on schedule to begin going live in the middle of October, and Yale Internal Medicine Associates (YIMA) has been selected as the pilot practice for the YMG-wide implementation that will take place in stages over the next 12 to 18 months. Each practice’s implementation will be essentially a 10-month long procedure with the same number of well-timed steps, key among which is an extensive training program.

First step: abstraction

For most YMG health care providers, the first introduction to the application will take place at a training session where everyone with patient care responsibilities will learn to cull relevant data from charts, either paper or electronic, to begin creating their practice’s EMR.

This “abstraction training” will take place about two months before Go Live and starts with 30 minutes of introductory e-learning. Practice managers will tell staff how to register for access to Epic’s password-protected educational site and then go online to familiarize themselves with what is known as the Epic “neighborhood.”

Once the online training is complete, students will meet for two hours of classroom instruction. “Everyone will arrive with real, live patient information, such as allergies, medications and immunizations, to enter into the Epic EMR. We’ll start building patient records in this safe and secure environment, and afterwards, providers can continue the work on their own,” said Garrett.

Kevin McCaffrey, Epic training manager, added that abstraction training is “a fundamental building block” of the education process. “Research at other organizations adopting Epic shows the greater the number of patients whose data is abstracted and entered prior to Go Live, the faster the practice regains its productivity in the days and weeks afterwards,” he said.

No stranger to implementations

Garrett is no stranger to the “anxieties, obstacles, challenges and rewards” of an EMR implementation—or to YMG. She joined the organization in 1992 and spent much of the time as a trainer, primarily training support staff in IDX, as well as providing customer service and federally mandated HIPAA training. She took several years off to raise her children and then joined ProHealth Physicians, a primary care association, to create and teach a curriculum that trained physicians, providers and clinical support staff to use Allscripts, another leading EMR software system.

Last October, Garrett joined the Epic team to develop the training program for the EpicCare Ambulatory application. She’ll be the lead teacher until additional certified trainers are added to her team, after which she plans to assume the “school principal” role.

Training for different groups

“The abstraction training is just the beginning,” noted Garrett, explaining that in mid-September, YIMA providers will embark on a second, more extensive round of EpicCare education. This training includes e-learning and two classroom sessions custom-tailored to meet the needs of three distinct groups:

  • Doctors, residents, physician’s assistants, advanced practice registered nurses, certified nurse midwives, genetic counselors, social workers, nutritionists and other health professionals
  • Ambulatory clinic surgeons
  • Clinical support staff, such as nurses responsible for “rooming” each patient, care coordinators, outreach managers, clinical managers, sleep technicians, industrial hygienists, and other support professionals

“The courses are built around role-based scenarios developed from our understanding of practice work flow. There are plenty of hands-on examples and exercises that, when you’re done, will enable you to document a patient visit. You’ll even get a chance to practice what you’ve learned in what Epic calls the ‘playground,’” said Garrett.

In addition, front office staff will take a short course, approximately an hour long, to learn both Epic basics and how to use the “In Basket” application for e-messaging. At a later date, front office and billing professionals will have extensive training on the Epic applications dealing with patient scheduling and registration, and professional billing.

And yes, there will be an exam at the end, but rest easy, counsels the head teacher: “We’re committed to ensuring everyone’s Epic success,” she said.

For more information about Epic Ambulatory training, contact Kevin McCaffrey at 203-502-4817 or Kevin.mccaffrey@ynhh.org.