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The Catalyst

Integrated EHR helps physician treat complex patient


Dr. David McSwain, Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, shares his Epic victory as part of the “I am Epic” campaign. For more “I am Epic” photos, visit photo provided

It was 1 a.m. and David McSwain, M.D., pediatric critical care physician, was reviewing a newly admitted patient’s medical record before advising further treatment. This particular patient, who had never been seen at MUSC before, was visiting from another state and had a complex medical history. To ensure both safe and quality care, McSwain wanted to see records of the patient’s medical history in order to get the whole picture of care the patient had received up until this point.

Usually McSwain would have to contact those outside hospitals through a phone operator, fax an official request, and wait for their reply also via fax — a process that can take several hours. When dealing with critically ill patients, minutes may be all you have to make a treatment decision. As a result, outside medical records are not always obtained in time or utilized in patient care if not readily accessible.

Instead of embarking on the lengthy record obtaining process, McSwain remembered hearing about unique functionality in Epic, MUSC’s new integrated electronic health record system. The resource is called Care Everywhere, which links MUSC to other hospitals across the nation that use the same EHR system. There are hundreds of hospitals nationwide that participate in the Care Everywhere network.

McSwain had never used Care Everywhere before, but he was able to easily navigate the process. He simply went to the Help menu, typed in Care Everywhere and followed the defined steps. “I thought I would have to jump through more hoops,” said McSwain. “It was pretty user– friendly.”

In a matter of two minutes, two records from two separate hospitals were delivered to McSwain’s computer. He now had at his fingertips his patient’s previous lab results, specialty consult notes and discharge summaries. Having this important health information saved his young patient from having to endure unnecessary labs, since he already had the results.

Also serving as the medical director for Inpatient and Emergency Teleconsultation at MUSC, McSwain sees the advantages of integrated care. In the world of telemedicine, where health information is exchanged between facilities often through two–way video, coordinated care teams can improve quality measures. Integration also reduces potential errors and increases communication among all involved. This is also true with integrated EHRs.

“Once people are accustomed to using this new platform, care of the patient will be even more efficient,” McSwain said. “There’s a lot of functionality to discover, so my advice is to not be intimidated. Use the Help menu and the many resources available.” One of McSwain’s personal favorites is the collection of SmartPhrases, which allow users to type a few characters that automatically expand into a longer phrase or block of text. For example, “.pt” becomes “patient.”

For more information on the Care Everywhere network, visit the Epic intranet site at To review SmartPhrases in Epic and other “smart tools,” go online to

If you have any questions, reach out to the Epic Help Desk at 792-9700 or

July 25, 2014



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