Soon after beginning her career at Epic in 2014, software tester Jen Weisheit sustained a concussion in a car accident. Because Jen already suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from her service in the Iraq War, the concussion should have been classified as a traumatic brain injury, a comorbidity common to veterans that can increase the severity of PTSD and other health issues. However, Jen was treated for a standard concussion, not a TBI, by several different civilian providers for years afterward. Jen’s experiences inform her mission at Epic to give veterans more accessible, informed care.
Jen’s “why” for her work at Epic is simple: a desire to help others. “While you’re deployed, it’s a completely different world,” she said. “You know that everything you do is impactful. It felt really natural to come to Epic because I needed to be somewhere where I felt like I was saving lives.”
In Jen’s work at Epic, she’s been a vocal advocate for veteran care, and she now leads a small team that focuses on helping healthcare organizations provide excellent care to veterans. The team created a standard way to document veterans’ status and history of service, which is a critical step to ensure that veterans can share this information with new providers.
For example, if providers don’t know the patient is a veteran, they might not classify conditions like Jen’s concussion as comorbidities.
“When I first got out of the military, I had to carry my entire file in a giant paper stack,” Jen said. “I had to repeat my story over and over, because much of the care I received overseas was in a field hospital and veterans don’t have consistent providers as often as civilian patients do.”
The veteran care team at Epic is also focused on standardized screening tools in Epic’s Foundation System for health issues that disproportionately affect veterans, such as traumatic brain injuries from concussions and PTSD-related substance abuse disorder.
“Many of the tools we recommend organizations use for all patients, and particularly for veterans, are already available in the Foundation System,” Jen said. “It’s important that organizations have recommendations to address vets’ needs, so vets can get the same care wherever they go.”
Epic community members can read more about tools for veteran care within Epic on the UserWeb.
“Why We Do What We Do” is a series of stories from Epic staff about how their work relates to their personal missions to help our community members serve their patients and transform healthcare delivery.