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University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy
Transitioning to a New Electronic Health Record System: The Student Perspective

by Matthew Odishoo, P2, Mental Wellness Chair; University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

The decision for the UI Health Hospital to change its prior electronic health record (EHR) system was multifaceted in nature. While both software systems provide complete and functional interfaces, one of the main advantages, in my personal opinion, with the new system is its intuitive layout and workflow. Execution of various actions conducted by the pharmacy team, such as patient data collection and medication verification seem to be much more streamlined using the new EHR, with most of the repetitive mouse-clicks and window changes cut out. The new EHR also provides the pharmacy team with a paperless option for tracking high-alert medications, making it easier to prevent and catch errors that may occur. This “dispense tracking” system allows members of the pharmacy to more readily reference which medication was sent out, who delivered it, and who received it. As such, strategies like Root Cause Analysis, which aim to prevent or correct cyclical workplace errors, are more easily conducted.

The transition between EHR systems has provided a new opportunity for students at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy to be EHR abstractors and assist faculty in learning the new software and transitioning from the previous EHR. Students’ primary role was to compile the patient information that was tracked in the former EHR system and use it to create a new patient profile within the new EHR system. Jihan Salama, a P2 at UIC College of Pharmacy who served as an EHR Abstractor, noted the unique opportunity that she was given to use both softwares, saying “I have previous experience working with the former EHR, so this was a valuable chance to see how two different systems organized patient data differently, and, specifically, how easy it was to find the corresponding sections in the new EHR system.”

Thus, this experience has proven to be useful for newer students, as it briefly exposes them to the inpatient hospital workflow under two distinct electronic health record systems. EHR abstractors had the opportunity to interact with other pharmacy staff members, as well as various other members of the multidisciplinary healthcare community that encompasses the UI Health Hospital. Murrah Sabouni, another P2 at UIC’s College of Pharmacy described the interprofessional collaboration present during the transition, stating “It was interesting to speak with the other members of the healthcare team and learn about their viewpoints on the transition. Having the opportunity to interact with students and workers of the other disciplines helped to develop my interprofessional communication and network, which will come up as I continue to pursue a career in clinical pharmacy.” By taking the time to navigate the former EHR system and move it over to the new EHR system, students have the chance to be familiar with two of the most commonly used EHRs in the inpatient setting. Students may then apply what they’ve learned to future rotations and eventually to their careers.

The employment opportunity also provides aid to students who are struggling to find work, or who are unable to work outside of their homes due to family obligations or safety concerns in the current climate. Additionally, Rockford students were also invited to apply bringing us together as a college to support UI Health Hospital in this endeavor.  November has shown a new increase in COVID-19 cases, especially within the Chicagoland area. This ongoing healthcare pandemic has outlined the importance of an efficient and patient-centered care system. The knowledge they learned through the transition of EHR systems can be used in future rotations, as well as during residencies. Another P2 from UIC COP, Sara Magazin highlights her excitement to apply her knowledge of both systems, saying “Having experience with both systems can hopefully allow me to be more efficient when it comes to answering questions posed by preceptors. In addition, having familiarity with the ways both systems can be used to access patient information can allow me to focus on more clinical-based questions, rather than spending vital time on rotations learning how to navigate them.”

Truthfully, this new initiative only scratches the surface of what’s to come in the effort to make patients’ lives better, and to ensure that we do everything in our power to assist in their healthcare needs. By assisting in the implementation of the new EHR, students who devoted their time to being abstractors of the transition can take pride in knowing that they played a crucial role in taking the next step towards maximizing patient care.



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