Hamilton Health Sciences has ‘Epic’ weekend, overhauls hospital information system

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Staff will no longer have to waste time shuffling paper and searching for records, while patients will no longer have to tell their entire life story at every new interaction. Photo credit: Hamilton Health Sciences


After more than two years of planning, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) launched its new hospital information system ‘Epic’ on Saturday. 

The single largest clinical transformation in HHS history, the adoption of the fully electronic Epic system eliminates paper-based patient health records and replaces dozens of non-integrated electronic applications with a single, unified system. 

“The launch of Epic is the largest patient safety and quality initiative in our history. It will greatly improve the experience for patients, staff and physicians, and most importantly, enable us to deliver care more safely,” said HHS president and CEO Rob MacIsaac. 

“We are proud of the work that has taken place to ensure HHS remains at the forefront of leading academic, teaching and research hospitals in Canada.”

The adoption of Epic will save staff and physicians time and effort by ensuring all patient records are consolidated in a single, easy-to-access location. It will also enhance accuracy, and thereby patient safety, by ensuring nothing goes unaccounted for or gets ‘lost’ in paperwork. 

With the new system, patients will also no longer need to repeat their health history at every interaction or visit and will be able to access their medical records more readily through the use of MyChart. 

MyChart is a free digital portal that gives patients easy access to their HHS health record anytime, from anywhere. Patients can view test results, manage their personal health information, and attend video visits with the application. 

“While the pandemic added a layer of complexity, it also highlighted that improvements to patient safety can’t take a back seat,” said executive lead of Epic implementation Dr. Barry Lumb, speaking in the lead up to the system’s June 4 launch. 

“Our patients should be confident in the care that they receive at our hospital.”

HHS is one of the busiest hospital networks in Ontario, providing care to more than 1,900 patients needing inpatient and emergency services per day, and another 2,400 patients through in-person and virtual clinic visits.

HHS began planning for the massive system overhaul more than two years ago. Since then, approximately 12,500 staff and physicians have received Epic training, more than 11,000 new electronic devices have been installed, and the hospital has made significant improvements to its IT equipment and infrastructure.

Epic is used by hundreds of hospitals around the world and has been recently adopted in several jurisdictions around Ontario.

In 2017, York Region’s Mackenzie Health was the first healthcare provider in Canada to implement the electronic medical records system. Dozens of other hospitals from Oshawa to Ottawa have since followed suit. 


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