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Epic Upgrade Coming November 1 - What Patients Need to Know

Hospital news | Thursday, October 20, 2022

Contact: Katie Johnson

An exciting upgrade is coming to the healthcare experience at Lake Region Healthcare (LRH). On November 1st, the enterprise is unifying their Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems with what is widely considered the best in class EMR technology in the industry, Epic.

What Patients Can Expect

As the organization gears up for the change on November 1st, patients at all locations should be aware of a few items:

  • If you use the current portal, communication features including messaging and appointment requests will be discontinued and move to the MyChart portal as of Friday, October 28th.
  • Patients with appointments should plan to arrive 15 minutes early for your first visit on and after November 1, 2022.
  • Bring a photo ID and insurance cards to your next appointment and expect to answer basic questions like name, date of birth, address, phone number and email address as they update your information in the new system.
  • Be prepared to sign registration documents with a new electronic signature pad.
  • Slightly longer wait times may occur during the first few weeks of our transition. There will be extra people who will be providing support to your registration staff, nurse and providers during the first two weeks of November.
  • Watch for an email invitation to activate your MyChart account within 24 hours of your appointment or visit lrhc.org anytime after November 1 to set up your account.

More About the Change

According to LRH CEO Kent Mattson, the transition will involve moving from three separate medical records systems to one, an undertaking that has involved more than two years’ worth of planning, preparation, installation, and training. What it will mean to patients is that providers, nurses and other medical professionals at all LRH affiliated hospital and clinic settings will have one central, seamless means of accessing and securing a patient’s medical information in an electronic format. “Regardless of where a patient may access care across Lake Region affiliated locations, or at Sanford or another Epic-based health system, their comprehensive medical record will be available to their entire care team,” Mattson said.

The investment involves a partnership with Sanford Health as the Epic Community Connect host. The Community Connect arrangement is Epic’s solution for smaller organizations to cost effectively access Epic’s software. By connecting to a larger regional organization’s Epic network this model facilitates a more efficient care continuum among organizations who often share patients in common. Accessing Epic through Sanford promotes independence and care close to home by being interoperable among care sites and providing for a lower cost EHR implementation and maintenance. Because of its size and regional footprint, LRH is considered a “large” Community Connect site, which includes regional support from Sanford’s program along with a direct relationship with Epic. “We have not only had Epic’s support for project management and implementation but will have long-term support and executive partnership with the company. The Community Connect model has been successfully used by other area community-based organizations to access Epic, and will also bring LRH into the Minnesota Epic community, the EMR system used by current referral partners and most tertiary sites within the region,” Mattson said.

The implementation of Epic at LRH is the 38th in Sanford’s history, including locations across the Midwest in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Iowa.

Prairie Ridge Locations Will Also See a Name Change

At the same time as the transition to Epic, Prairie Ridge Healthcare sites across the region will roll out the same EMR solution and will also unify with the name Lake Region Healthcare starting November 1st. “We have served our nine communities of West Central Minnesota together since 2015 when Prairie Ridge became a wholly owned subsidiary of Lake Region Healthcare,” explained Mattson. “With both of our hospitals and all of our locations under the same name, we will be able to implement a single Epic EMR and create one unified patient record system throughout our care locations for safer, more seamless care.”

“Creating a shared record of care and disease management is a significant benefit to our patients,” said Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Naomi Schmid. Another benefit is the Epic platform for interacting with your medical records called MyChart. “MyChart is a user-friendly and powerful tool to help you manage and make your appointments, request medication refills, communicate with your care team, and even conduct video visits,” Schmid added. It also makes sharing your medical information safely and securely with people you provide care for, such as children or elderly parents, very easy. She also noted patients may see the Sanford logo at times when using MyChart. “If you see providers at both LRH and Sanford, you might see one or both of our logos. But no matter the logo, there will be complete medical records for care at both locations,” she said. “It’s no reason for alarm and is a reflection of our partnership with Sanford to provide an enhanced medical record system. This is just one of the many ways we deliver on Our Mission: we partner to enrich life through health.”

“It’s no small undertaking and a $25 million dollar investment over a five-year period,” said Mattson. “The replacement of our EMR solution is mission critical to sustaining care close to home in a community-based setting, as we work toward the person-centered target of an excellent healthcare experience for the people we serve, and providing efficient, cost-effective solutions to advance our effort to be the area’s most desirable place to work and to receive and deliver the highest quality of medical care.”

About the Lake Region Healthcare Enterprise

The Lake Region Healthcare enterprise is comprised of Lake Region Healthcare, an independent community-governed non-profit headquartered in Fergus Falls, the Mill Street Residence Assisted Living Facility in Fergus Falls, and a non-profit critical access hospital headquartered in Elbow Lake. With over 120 medical staff and over 1,100 employees, we are dedicated to serving the healthcare needs of our communities with values of Excellence, Person-Centered, Collaboration, Stewardship, Integrity, Respect and Innovation. Together we bring specialty and sub-specialty services to patients at hospital locations in Fergus Falls and Elbow Lake and at clinics in Ashby, Barnesville, Battle Lake, Evansville, Herman, Hoffman, and Morris, MN. For more information visit: www.lrhc.org and www.millstreet.lrhc.org