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Enterprise EMR: A long time coming

Dr. Fullwood believes Cerner’s enterprise EMR will make the EMHS medical group more cohesive by eliminating silos in favor of a more transparent system that shows the patient experience.In April, EMHS announced the much anticipated selection of our enterprise electronic medical record (EMR) vendor, Cerner. And things are moving fast! In the next 30-plus days, project leaders are establishing an EMR and business systems governance structure; communicating the vision and future state with stakeholders; identifying EMHS champions and superusers; and preparing for implementation and training. As we embark on this new chapter for our system, partnership and process are keys to a successful rollout. We sat down with one physician to get his take on the EMR decision and what it will take to succeed. James E. Fullwood, MD, has been with Sebasticook Valley Health for nearly four years. During that time, Dr. Fullwood has participated in numerous discussions concerning which partner EMHS should choose for its enterprise EMR, a process that Dr. Fullwood found to be thoughtful and deliberative. “A group of clinicians, leaders, and others conducted an exhaustive review of EMR platforms and found that two products, Cerner and Epic, could be the right fit for EMHS. Further review gave the edge to Cerner. So now it is time for us to rally behind this decision and make it a true medical community effort. The more positive we are, the easier the transition will be.”

Dr. Fullwood is comfortable in the enterprise EMR world. As a medical student and as a resident, he rotated through many hospitals and systems nationwide, where he trained on a variety of platforms, including Cerner and Epic. “There really isn’t one that is truly above the others on all levels—there is no perfect EMR.” Recalling his employment at Allina Health System in Minneapolis, Dr. Fullwood said the implementation of an enterprise EMR challenged everyone. “It will be the same here. We have to learn new workflows and how to embed the EMR in our practices. The harder we work at doing that and figuring out the small nuances that will make it successful, the delivery of care will be that much better for the patient and more efficient for the provider.”  

When fully optimized, Dr. Fullwood believes Cerner’s enterprise EMR will make the EMHS medical group more cohesive by eliminating silos in favor of a more transparent system that shows the patient experience. “So when patients come to our offices, we will be able to know where they’ve been, who’ve they’ve seen, and what that provider thought, as well as what tests were ordered and the results. So, no matter where they were seen in our system—TAMC, Mercy, EMMC, wherever—we will be able to see what happened. We will not be starting from zero.” This he says, will make the conversation more objective and less subjective, and will only help to improve the lines of communication among providers.

Practice Makes Perfect

While excited by the work that is about to commence, Dr. Fullwood is emphatic that providers need time to train on the new EMR. “We have to be able to play around with it and practice to become effective and efficient. It takes time and we need to ensure that we do it right.” He added that it was normal for some providers to be a little uncertain about this new journey and the platform that was selected for EMHS, but was also quick to point out that the system’s medical group has some of the best and brightest people in the country. Providers, he said, are resilient. When one considers medical school and other related achievements, implementing an enterprise EMR is just another challenge, “and we have climbed higher mountains than this.”   

To learn more about the EMR decision process, or to view and ask questions, visit the dedicated webpage at