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Outcomes

Using Epic to Quickly Respond to Public Health Guidance in a Pandemic

UC San Diego Health used Epic to keep clinicians and staff up to speed on the latest recommendations

UC San Diego Health was on the front lines of a new disease when COVID-19 hit California in February. With an integrated Epic EHR, they were able to continuously disseminate best practices to clinicians and staff as researchers learned more about the virus and guidance changed.

UCSD Health subscribes to automatic system updates from Epic that are based on travel screening guidelines from the CDC and WHO and reviewed by a panel of infectious disease experts. For example, early in the pandemic, staff were prompted in Epic to ask patients whether they had recently traveled to areas that were then experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, such as Italy and China. As additional outbreaks were reported in the United States and community spread made symptom screening necessary, staff saw automatic, up-to-date guidance in Epic.

“The ability to quickly and continually modify something to the most updated recommendations is vital,” Jeffery Reeves, MD, the physician lead for perioperative improvement and informatics at UCSD Health, told Healthcare Innovation. “An integrated EHR allowed us to quickly incorporate the latest public health guidelines into how we provided care at the bedside.”

As more COVID-19 tests became available and guidance for testing changed, physicians’ COVID-19 order sets were quickly updated. Standardized documentation tools and alerts in the system helped guide clinicians through best practices as they cared for a surge of infected patients.

UCSD Health also shared used COVID-19 reports and dashboards in Epic with clinicians, so everyone could understand to track how many patients had COVID-19 across the organization, how many beds were available, and what resources were on hand.

“We made the decision early on that we would share [the COVID-19 operational dashboard] with everyone,” Jeffery Reeves, MD, the physician lead for perioperative improvement and informatics at UCSD Health, told Healthcare Innovation. “More than 14,000 staff have this data…pretty much all of our huddles start with a glance at the dashboard.”

For a comprehensive look at how UCSD Health adapted their Epic system to the COVID-19 pandemic, read the full study at JAMIA. For more information about using Epic to respond to COVID-19, Epic community members can refer to the Managing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) With Epic documentation.