On the Record

With its vision to modernize technology, Roper St. Francis Healthcare launches a state-of-the-art electronic medical record

WRITTEN BY Lauren B. Johnson

From appointments, scans and tests to procedures and follow-ups, any patient’s lifelong health journey can seem an odyssey on paper—and organizing pertinent medical information in an accessible and decipherable manner, a heroic feat. By adopting Epic, an aptly named electronic medical records (EMR) solution, Roper St. Francis Healthcare intends to achieve just that. “Our implementation of Epic will transform how we deliver care, improve clinical information availability and create a better experience for our patients and caregivers,” says Roper St. Francis Healthcare Chief Information Officer Laishy Williams-Carlson.

In August, Roper St. Francis Healthcare initiated phase one of its new EMR rollout. The move streamlined patient data across 126 locations with 353 providers. Phase two kicks off November 6th, when the system welcomes its hospitals into the Epic realm. With this state-of-the-art EMR in place, patients can easily access their medical records from a computer, mobile phone or tablet through the Epic patient portal, MyChart. “Shifting over to Epic is the essential underpinning for the next five years of our technology strategy,” explains Williams-Carlson. “We will continue to build on the Epic platform.” Here, the CIO shares the advantages of this highly ranked software.

Laishy Williams-Carlson

HOUSE CALLS (HC): How does this change fit into the Roper St. Francis Healthcare 2030 strategic plan?
Laishy Williams-Carlson (LWC):
“One of the five pillars of the plan is to modernize technology. In the future, we want to offer a much more robust digital front door, easier access to our services, more virtual visits and so on. A great electronic medical records system is the foundation for everything that follows.”

HC: What prompted the switch to Epic?
“One patient, one record. Previously, we had disparate electronic medical records for practice and hospital settings. While those systems communicated, the connection wasn’t seamless. With Epic, it’s easy to integrate data from providers across multiple healthcare systems. Take a pregnant woman, for example. All of mom’s prenatal visits are put in her electronic record, so when she arrives at the hospital in labor, the medical staff can see that information. Details about her delivery and inpatient care then get added to that chart, and when she returns to her OB/GYN for her postpartum checkup, it’s all there for her doctor to see.”

HC: How does this allow doctors to better care for patients?
“From a provider perspective, having a patient’s full health status at your fingertips gives a 360-degree view of what’s going on. For example, a stoic 86-year-old may say, ‘I’m doing fine,’ but the doctor can see that the patient has been to the ER four times for falls. With access to that person’s comprehensive history, the doctor can address the issue. Or, let’s say, you arrive in the ER and are unconscious. Doctors can quickly access information on any allergies you have and gather other relevant health information.”

HC: What advantages does the Epic patient portal, MyChart, have over the previous system, MyHealth Physicians?
“MyChart is a single portal for all patient information, including notes on prior office and hospital visits, previous procedures and medications. It can be easily accessed by a computer or mobile device. Going forward, patients can schedule appointments or virtual visits, message their doctors for prescription refills and sync MyChart with the Apple Health app on their phone or watch. MyChart also makes it easy for patients to view their data from any healthcare system or physician who uses Epic, which is great for Lowcountry patients who may have providers from multiple organizations. In a nutshell, MyChart allows patients to be more easily engaged in their care.”

HC: How can patients sign up for Epic’s MyChart?
“We’re encouraging new patients as well as existing MyHealth Physicians users to enroll in MyChart. You can sign up during an office visit or at home on mychart.rsfh.com. When you first enroll, you’ll be asked to provide data that confirms you are who you say you are, such as the last four digits of your social security number and your date of birth. Patients who have questions about MyChart or need a little help enrolling can contact the MyChart help desk at (843) 402-2500 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.”