Wellmont Introduces New Electronic Health Record, Portal For Patients To Access Own Medical Information

EpicKINGSPORT - A patient who has regularly received care at one of Wellmont Medical Associates' primary care practices suddenly experiences great discomfort and heads to the emergency department at a Wellmont Health System hospital.

Meanwhile, a Wellmont CVA Heart Institute patient has gone to a Wellmont Urgent Care facility with an illness that might require medication.

As physicians treat each patient, they can deliver even better care because of Wellmont's innovative and robust electronic health record. It enables them to supplement what they learn during the physical examination with a comprehensive, yet quick, review of the patient's history of care at Wellmont facilities.

This became possible through Wellmont's adoption of the nationally respected Epic platform. It was an 18-month project to replace multiple medical record and financial systems that were not fully integrated or able to communicate with each other easily.

"This is a monumental step forward because every patient will now have one electronic medical record," said Tracey Moffatt, Wellmont's chief operating officer. "The benefit for patients and the health system will be enormous because we will be able to rapidly see what has happened with a patient in the past and make appropriate decisions that prevent unnecessary duplication of services.

"We are constantly focused on enhancing quality in our care delivery, and Epic is a key component in empowering our caregivers to take service excellence to the next level."

The use of Epic is Wellmont's latest advancement in the use of electronic medical records. The health system was a leader in implementing computerized provider order entry and has met all federal standards for meaningful use of certified electronic medical records.

The Epic system went live Dec. 9 at Wellmont Medical Associates offices and is set to launch March 29 everywhere else at Wellmont. To celebrate this achievement, Wellmont executives held a news conference on Thursday, March 20, to detail the scale of this project and congratulate the nearly 200 co-workers and physician leaders who guided this successful transition.

During this event, Wellmont also highlighted MyWellmont, a secure new portal for patients to review a significant portion of their electronic medical record. This web-based program provides multiple ways for patients to participate in greater depth with their health care and was created as part of the Epic conversion.

Wellmont physicians and other medical personnel in the health system's hospitals and other facilities have received extensive training to use the new Epic system.

"We envisioned a window of as long as 24 months before we could have our electronic health record up and running throughout the system," said Denny DeNarvaez, president and CEO. "Our co-workers, physicians and other medical professionals who participated in this project had one of the fastest Epic implementations of this size. They deserve credit for their admirable performance and commitment to bolstering the patient experience in our facilities."

Cory Siffring, a medical doctor who serves as a general surgeon at Holston Valley Medical Center, said the change to Epic is worthwhile because it enhances patient safety and offers a broader picture of a patient's medical condition - all in one place.

"Physicians provide the best care when they have the most accurate and complete information," Dr. Siffring said. "When we review a patient's record, we might discover something important that will help us better understand that person's condition and treat it most effectively."

And now when patients log on to www.MyWellmont.org, they have another tool to work with their caregivers and have 24/7 access to their health information. This free program became available in February to patients of Wellmont Medical Associates and is scheduled to expand later this month to all other parts of Wellmont.

Among the ways patients can utilize MyWellmont include:

  • Checking the dates and times of appointments with Wellmont caregivers
  • Looking at test results
  • Reviewing their medications and requesting refills
  • Sending messages to their primary care physicians
  • Viewing and paying bills online
  • Accessing medical information for their children or other dependents

In addition to offering secure access, MyWellmont takes further protective measures. For example, people cannot submit requests for refills of narcotic medications, and some particularly sensitive test results, such as for HIV, are not available.

To sign up for MyWellmont, patients are given an activation code after receiving care at a Wellmont facility or by requesting one through the website. Once they have the code, they log on to the website and select a username and password and answer a few other simple questions. Then they can use the site.

Wellmont patients can access this program through their computer or use official mobile apps for smart phones and tablets available through the Apple store or Google Play.

"MyWellmont is a terrific opportunity for us to connect more deeply with our patients so they can play an active role in their health care," Moffatt said. "It can directly impact patients' wellness because they are intimately engaged in improving their lives. We are excited to offer this program, which is an excellent companion to initiatives such as Wellmont LiveWell and a host of other endeavors designed to improve this region's health status."

One of the many ways the Epic conversion and MyWellmont work in harmony is providing assistance for people who travel. Information stored in MyWellmont can be placed on a jump drive and taken with patients in case they need medical attention during their trip.

Likewise, if Wellmont patients are out of town and need services of a hospital or other healthcare provider that uses the Epic system, those caregivers can be authorized to access the patient's Epic profile. The same applies to someone visiting the region who needs care from Wellmont.

"Our move to Epic and the introduction of MyWellmont represent in another tangible way our commitment to serve people in our region with high-quality care," DeNarvaez said. "We have a vision to deliver the best health care anywhere, and these initiatives will lead us in that direction and reinforce to our patients that the best care is close to home."