Epic is coming. Invest now.
Epic is an instrument, and we have never had an instrument this good. Crucially, it’s YOUR instrument to help YOU care for YOUR patients. Using Epic will help you to organize care, ensure quality, allow transparency and accountability and it will allow patients to engage like never before.
But it is a complex instrument, because you are doing complex work. And right now, it comes out of the box, set to “average”. But there is no such thing as a good, average instrument.
Lessons learned from fighter planes
Quetelet was a mathematician/astronomer who realized that the imprecise astronomical measurements could be made “truer” if the measurements were averaged. Later, thinking he could generalize this principle, he measured people, found average measurements, and used these measurements in the army to mass-produce items for the “average” man. He changed the industrialized world.
Averages help us a great deal, but they can also be a problem. The trouble with using average like this is that when you measure people on even just 3 scales, practically nobody is average. Engineers used average sizes to build fighter planes for the average fighter pilot, but the planes fit nobody well. As fighter planes got better and better, piloting these planes got more complex and fighter pilots died. Eventually, people realized that the poorly fitting cockpit of the planes was the real problem and started making the planes customizable. Seat position, distance to the pedals and many other things in the cockpits were made adjustable for the pilot to use with precision and fighter pilots were able to handle the planes much better.
Take time to go from good to great
Now take Epic. It’s a really complex instrument, like a fighter plane. And you don’t have an average practice, you have YOUR practice. To do good work at the level of complexity in your practices, each of you needs to learn how to use Epic and then adjust your version of Epic for you to use best.
It takes some time to become familiar with Epic. The investment you make now to learn Epic will pay dividends as you soar through your work. And once you know Epic well, you will be able to customize it to your practice, because the Epic designers have built in tons of customization points for you. Set things up so that when you open Epic, it is already tuned to your practice. Make a few tweaks here and there so that one word or one keystroke will set a cascade of things to happen. Organize how you fly through the program so that you can automate processes.
Training is your key to success at Go-Live
Make your investment in Epic now, in training, user settings labs and the playground environment, when the patient you are practicing on is just a bunch of electrons in a simulation. You can take your time. You can sip coffee. You can bug the person on the computer next to you in your training session. If you make a mistake, you can laugh and fix it at your leisure.
But try to learn the same thing on June 4th in your clinic. Everybody will be busy, there will be some excitement and tension, and there will be a real patient waiting for you to “get it right” in Epic. Making a mistake can have real consequences.
Doctors have said over and over again that training to familiarity before Go-Live was the best thing they could have done to make the transition to Epic smoother.
So, don’t just accept the average. Invest now, when it’s easier and the consequences are low.
See you in the classroom .