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Aspen Valley Hospital gets going with Epic records system launch

AVH will be able to put its clinics on a single integrated platform, so that medical providers can share patient records and history

Patients of Aspen Valley Hospital have a new way of keeping their medical profiles straight and their care providers informed with this month’s introduction of a new electronic health-records system.

AVH’s rollout of the Epic platform began Oct. 1, and patients will notice a difference immediately, said hospital CEO and President David Ressler. Through Epic, doctors can access their patients’ health profile, including their prescriptions, medical history and allergies. Patients also can access their records through the MyChart portal.

“I think the patient experience is going to be enhanced from the moment they contact us for an appointment and even before then with the ability of MyChart,” Ressler said.



Patients needing help with the transition can call the hospital from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at 970-544-1556. They can also email questions to to MyChart@aspenhospital.org.

With Epic, AVH will be able to put its clinics on a single integrated platform, so that medical providers can share patient records and history.




“Epic’s system of creating a single record for each patient across health-care systems has a dual benefit of freeing patients from having to compile their health records every time they see a new provider,” said an AVH press release, “while allowing providers from different departments — and health-care systems across the country and internationally — to view the same chart for each patient and work together to coordinate care for their shared patients.”

Through its first four days using Epic, 9% of the hospital’s patient base were registered with MyChart. The tool is mostly used by patients aged between 18 and 70 years, said Jennifer Slaughter, the hospital’s director of community relations.

She stressed that patients are not required to join MyChart, which is “an added benefit of now having a single, unified health record through Epic. It provides another access point to manage your or a loved one’s healthcare. For older patients who many not be comfortable using MyChart, connecting via the telephone to make appointments or receive test results from a provider is still a common way to manage care and will always be a communications channel available to patients.”

The hospital is spending approximately $16 million on the Epic platform, which includes a one-time licensing fee of $6.1 million and $6.5 million for the system’s implementation. The expenditures received approval in June 2021 from hospital’s board of directors, who were told then that Epic would go live this October.

The hospital also added the equivalent of 13 full-time jobs with Epic. Some employees have taken on more duties with Epic on their plate, and there have been some newly-created positions for Epic, Ressler said. Employees have had to understand different Epic modules used for the hospital lab, the emergency department and other areas of the hospital’s operations.

“With modules at large hospitals, there typically are one or more people assigned to a module, whereas here we have multiple modules assigned to one person,” he said. “We had a fairly small team that worked on it where each individual has to wear multiple hats.”

The hospital under different leadership in 2015 approved an alliance with with University of Colorado Health that would bring Epic to AVH. That never got off the ground, however.

Back then, the only way a small 25-bedroom, critical-access hospital like AVH to have Epic would have been to latch on with a larger medical organization. The problem with AVH’s alliance with University of Colorado Health, he explained, was that the Epic system was tailored for University of Colorado Health and did not fit well with AVH.

“It wasn’t available to smaller hospitals at the time,” said Ressler, who rejoined AVH in 2016, “and has only become available to smaller hospitals in the past year.”

Epic is based in Wisconsin and also is used by other Colorado organizations, including Boulder Community Health, Centura Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, DaVita Physician Solutions, Denver Health Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Colorado and SCL Health.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com

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