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TCHC to implement electronic health records Nov. 1

On Nov. 1, Tri-County Health Care will implement EPIC, an electronic medical records system that will enhance the quality and efficiency of patient care at all its clinic sites including Bertha Medical Clinic, Henning Medical Clinic, Ottertail Area Medical Clinic, Sebeka Medical Clinic and Wadena Medical Center as well as Tri-County Hospital in Wadena.

An electronic health record is a collection of electronic health information about individual patients. It is a tool that provides efficient access to a complete picture of a patient's health. EPIC is the software application that Tri-County Health Care utilizes to supports all the functions related to patient care - registration, scheduling, pharmacy, radiology, lab work, billing and clinical care from providers, nurses and emergency professionals.

Tri-County Health Care staff has been busy training since early October. The purpose of the training is to ensure that providers and staff can effectively, efficiently and safely use EPIC to perform their jobs and manage the health of TCHC patients.

"Learning something new, such as EPIC, takes time and patience. We believe the benefits that our patients will receive will outweigh the short-term challenges," said Joel Beiswenger, TCHC president and CEO.

In the upcoming weeks, Tri-County Health Care staff is asking patients to expect appointments to last longer than normal. Because providers will be spending more time with each patient confirming the accuracy of information, fewer appointments will be available.

"We anticipate that patients will experience some initial inconveniences in the implementation of EPIC. Our staff is spending extra time confirming information and medical history," Beiswenger said.

It's also important that patients bring their current medication bottles to help staff confirm prescription information, he said.

To TCHC patients, EPIC means that seamless care is the reality and that access is readily available throughout the TCHC system, including when minutes matter the most. Physicians and emergency room professionals will have fast access to data to make informed care decisions. Regardless of where they are being seen, patients will receive care from providers who have a complete picture of their health history at their fingertips.

"EPIC will make health care visits more convenient for our patients no matter where they are within our system, which provider they are seeing or what time of day they are being seen," Beiswenger said.