A partnership between two Hall County health care organizations that began as way to fight the coronavirus has expanded into a project to share medical records.
Northeast Georgia Health System and Good News Clinic began working together in March to test and treat patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19. Now the health system has worked to get Good News, a nonprofit that provides free medical and dental care to the uninsured, on the same electronic medical records system used by the hospital system.
The system, called Epic, is used by the NGHS and Longstreet Clinic to let health care workers have access to a patient's records across all providers.
“We knew we needed to get GNC on Epic, the same electronic health record as NGHS and Longstreet Clinic, so we could share patients’ health information in real time,” said Antonio Rios, chief physician executive for Northeast Georgia Physicians Group and GNC physician volunteer. “The NGHS Foundation was making steady progress towards its goal to raise funds to implement Epic at GNC, but the need suddenly became urgent.”
Good News Clinic was still using paper and fax machines to document patient care and communicate with other area healthcare providers. Both organizations noticed the prevalence of the virus among the uninsured and underinsured population and decided that they needed a better way to coordinate care for patients treated at GNC – and they needed to move quickly.
Epic waived implementation fees at GNC and several other healthcare organizations around the country to help them battle COVID-19.
“NGHS and Good News Clinics went from kicking off the project in late April to go-live just a few weeks later,” said Jeff Heerhold, Epic implementation executive. “Together, we took a process that typically takes months and made it happen in just a few weeks. The tenacious team, strong executive support and tireless work contributed to a successful rapid implementation.”
GNC started using Epic on June 1 – replacing the cumbersome, time-consuming process of faxing physician orders and medical histories with quick, electronic referrals between community partners.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to now be able to share data and have a better picture of the health needs of our community,” said Liz Coates, director of GNC. “This is truly a game changer for us and our patients.”
The NGHS Foundation assisted with the transition.
“We are very appreciative of the generosity of Epic and our community who supported this vital software,” said Chris Bray, president and chief development officer for the NGHS Foundation.