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OHSU and Epic partner to accelerate electronic health record research, learning

The Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology at Oregon Health & Science University has established a partnership with Epic Systems Corporation to advance research and education in biomedical and health informatics using the EpicCare electronic health record and associated tools. OHSU is the first academic informatics program to partner with Epic in this manner, an initiative that OHSU and Epic hope will accelerate practical application of electronic health record technology and hands-on learning.

The partnership, created under the auspices of OHSU’s Informatics Discovery Lab, entails establishing two laboratory environments of EpicCare at OHSU — one focused on research and the other on education.

“Every student of informatics who aspires to work professionally in the field should have experience with a state-of-the-art electronic health record system, including back-end functionality,” said William Hersh, M.D., professor and chair of OHSU’s Department of Medical Informatics & Clinical Epidemiology, who directs OHSU educational programs in biomedical informatics. “This partnership provides the opportunity for our students, including those in our distance learning program, to obtain such experience. It also provides a rich research environment for our faculty and students who use informatics to improve health, health care delivery and clinical and translational research.”

“This project is a fundamental part of the Informatics Discovery Lab’s strategy to cultivate an entrepreneurial environment within our informatics research programs,” added Aaron Cohen, M.D., M.S., associate professor of medical informatics at OHSU, who directs commercial partnerships and collaboration for the lab. “We want to encourage the free flow of ideas from the marketplace to the lab and from the lab to the marketplace.”

“We see this partnership with OHSU as a great way to accelerate the optimization of electronic health records,” said Bret Shillingstad, M.D., Epic clinical informatics physician. “Once the environments are established, Epic and OHSU will assist other Epic academic customers in establishing similar laboratory environments for their programs.”

The EpicCare research environment – including access to Epic source code – will allow OHSU faculty and students to investigate usability, data analytics, simulation, interoperability, patient safety and other research topics. It also will enable the prototyping of solutions to real-world health care problems that can be addressed by informatics technology.

The EpicCare educational environment will provide students in OHSU's graduate program in biomedical informatics access to EpicCare for learning purposes. Students in both OHSU's on-campus and distance learning programs will pursue coursework based on Epic's electronic health record system. Educational activities will include learning to configure screens, implementing clinical decision support, and generating reports as well as performing other front-end and back-end activities.

OHSU will begin offering classes and research projects using the live Epic environments in March 2014 (spring term).

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