Why Epic? A Shared Vision Needs a Shared Platform

In 2017 alone, more than 115 U.S healthcare organizations came together to form new health systems. RWJBarnabas Health is an example of this growing trend to expand and unify resources to deliver high-quality care to more people more efficiently.

In 2016, Barnabas Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System joined to form RWJBarnabas Health. In 2018, RWJBH and Rutgers University announced a public-private partnership. In 2020, RWJBH and Trinitas Regional Medical Center signed a definitive agreement to combine forces. That same year, RWJBH and Saint Peter’s Healthcare System agreed to advance our relationship as we work toward the creation of New Jersey’ premier, multi-campus academic medical center.

Creating partnerships with likeminded organizations that have committed to a shared vision allows us to create economies of scale and gives us the ability to do more together, rather than separately.

Change is a Natural Result of the Complexity that Expansion Brings

Integration is a top consideration when establishing a partnership. While bringing several organizations together is highly advantageous, it is also a massive and complex endeavor involving many operational integrations. As a result, partnerships generate demand for standardization over time. Each time two organizations become one, new systems, vendors, endpoints, policies and procedures are all introduced. Within these different infrastructures, there are different processes, functionalities and data sets. When organizations come together, a lack of standardization can result in various forms of clinical inefficiencies and workflow headaches, affecting both patients and providers. Functionalities become redundant, and lack of use arises. In fact, in the long term, the cost of maintaining several different electronic health record (EHR) systems is actually more than the cost of transitioning to Epic.

Read more: Epic Together’s Heritage Data Management Project Explained

In this sense, change is natural and to be expected as our health system grows. We have launched our multi-year Epic Together journey to address these challenges and unify our expanding and evolving health system across the enterprise. We will do this by taking a fragmented, disparate patchwork of systems in our current state and consolidating everything into a single universal EHR platform.

In the meantime, though, the most important EHR at RWJBH remains the one that is in use right now. This fundamental commitment to safety will not change at any point in the Epic project timeline.

People and Data: The Essence of Epic Together

Like all modern organizations, data is fast becoming the lifeblood of RWJBH. However, it must be consistent and able to move seamlessly throughout the enterprise. That can only be achieved by taking disconnected, siloed systems and moving to one unified platform used by everyone throughout the enterprise.

RWJBH’s other lifeblood is, of course, its people.

RWJBH has brought together a vast network of talented, hardworking healthcare professionals. An intentional, thoughtful transition to a single, universal EHR system will help to keep our talent here.

For these reasons, we diligently continue on our Epic Together journey, even in the face of COVID-19. Epic will be both flexible and unified, the best of both worlds. With one unified platform, we can crystallize and make actionable the vision that the entire RWJBH ecosystem all shares together.

Transitioning to Epic will provide the necessary level of clarity and focus for RWJBH to achieve its goal of becoming a High Reliability Organization (HRO), increasing patient safety, enhancing the patient experience, mitigating clinician burnout and driving down instances of preventable patient harm to unprecedented levels.