Pictured: a cardiac ablation procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. Our new, fully digital hospital information system, called Epic, will offer heart patients improved communication and faster access to test results.
On June 4, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is going fully digital with a new hospital information system called Epic. Health care providers will do away with paper charts, and all health information will be recorded and accessed digitally, from test results to medication lists to after-visit summaries. For HHS heart patients, this means an improvement in communication and access to test results.
The Epic system includes a secure patient portal called MyChart. Once you set up a MyChart account by signing into the app onto your phone or the MyChart website, you’ll have access to your health records with a history of each visit from June 2022 onward. This includes notes as well as an after-visit summary document which identifies medication changes, orders placed during your hospital visit and any instructions or education provided during your visit. Everything will be on hand to review whenever you’d like. So, no more frantic note taking during appointments and no more repeating your list of medications to every new health care provider.
“Despite cardiac patients typically being older, we don’t anticipate the use of technology to be a deterrent.”
Patients will still receive the same excellent health care as before Epic, and MyChart will allow patients to be more involved in their care.
What are the benefits for cardiac patients?
Faster test results: The most common tests for cardiac patients are:
- Angiogram, a specific type of x-ray that shows blood flow through the blood vessels
- Echocardiogram, an ultrasound of the heart
- Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) measures the heart’s electrical activity and identifies any irregular heart rhythm
HHS performs many of these tests every day. For example, more than 120 echocardiograms are done each day across HHS.
Since test results printed on paper need to physically get from the lab into the patient’s chart and back to the cardiologist, it takes some time. However with Epic, the testing equipment will record results digitally, which will automatically be uploaded to the patient’s fully digital chart, available in the MyChart app right away.
Improved referral process: In many industries the fax machine is a relic, however in health care it’s currently a major form of communication, especially for referrals. If your family doctor recommends that you be referred to a cardiac specialist, the new Epic system will make it much easier and quicker to do so.
An integrated system: Both HHS and St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton will be using the Epic system. So, if you need to see specialists at multiple clinics at any hospital in Hamilton, all your medical information will be accessible on the MyChart app. In addition, all specialists will have more comprehensive records allowing for more cohesive care.
Easy and secure video appointments: Patients can access video appointments directly from the MyChart tool without any additional virtual tools or passwords. Just sign in to your MyChart account, confirm your information and click a button to attend your virtual visit.
Ongoing communication: Some patients will have improved access to their cardiac care team. They can reach out with concerns directly through the MyChart app. From there, changes can be made to their care plan and medications.
Booking appointments: Some cardiac patients will be able to book some tests and appointments directly through the MyChart app. This will be far more convenient for patients and at other hospitals, has been shown to reduce the number of missed appointments.
“Despite cardiac patients typically being older, we don’t anticipate the use of technology to be a deterrent since people want access to their health information and the app is easy to use,” says Dr. Omid Salehian, cardiologist at HHS. “Some of our patients are also patients at St. Joseph’s and already have MyChart. They’re just as eagerly waiting for Epic to come to HHS as the cardiology department.”
Epic and MyChart launch at HHS on June 4, 2022.