Upgrading to a new version of Epic can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires careful planning, preparation, and optimization from your internal teams. But, the advantages of new Epic applications and capabilities, including improved system performance, enhanced functionality, and increased efficiency, are critical to your organization’s success.

Read on to learn more about Epic upgrade processes, as well as where our team of senior-level Epic consultants can fit in your organization (and help make the most of your investments.)

What Do Epic Upgrades Entail for Your Team?

1) Planning

An Epic upgrade requires a well-defined planning process to ensure a smooth transition from the current system to the new one, including identification of business requirements, analysis of current system processes, and evaluation of the upgrade’s feasibility. An effective project plan should outline the tasks, timelines, and resources needed for the upgrade, as well as risk management strategies used to mitigate potential issues.

2) Preparation

From defining system requirements to updating testing scripts and completing training preparation procedures for users, a well-defined Epic upgrade involves a thorough preparation process to ensure your employees stay on the same page, no matter what.

3) Testing

A comprehensive testing process should be completed to identify any potential issues, maximize performance of the new versions from their initial Go-Live date, and ensure that the new system meets the organization’s requirements. Testing processes typically include user acceptance testing, regression testing, and integrated testing to ensure that the new system will perform as expected.

4) Training

User training should be provided to ensure all users and key stakeholders are familiar with the new system and its core features and capabilities. Defined training plans are crucial in helping organizations establish a comprehensive communication plan to keep stakeholders informed and address any potential issues that may arise during the transition.

5) Optimization

Optimization initiatives are essential in ensuring the new system is fully functional, including analyzing the system’s performance, fine-tuning system settings, reconfiguring workflows, and streamlining processes for greater system efficiency. The optimization process also involves monitoring the system’s performance to identify any issues that may arise and taking action to resolve them promptly.

How Often Should You Upgrade Epic?

Ideally, Epic upgrades should be completed every 16-18 months, or as Epic Systems releases the latest version of each current application or module within your Epic environment. However, because of issues with budgets, timelines, inadequate technical infrastructure, and disconnected application teams, companies often fall behind suggested upgrade timelines.

And, while pressures with budgets or employee availability can make upgrading your Epic solutions a little tricky sometimes, failing to complete upgrades when they’re available could jeopardize the health of your Epic system and compromise your organization’s ability to comply with regulations and meet standards involved in Epic’s “Good Maintenance” program.

Typically, organizations can remain in good standings in the “Good Maintenance” program if their system operates within two versions of the latest Epic EHR upgrade, but finding a way to stay current with the newest versions can help your team maintain compliance and improve efficiency across different departments, locations, or areas of the organization.

Steps to Optimize Your Next Upgrade in Epic

  1. Create a strong project team
  2. Build realistic communication plans
  3. Plan, plan, plan
  4. Conduct comprehensive testing
  5. Test and train
  6. Set user expectations
  7. Outline criteria for success

Preparing for an Epic Upgrade

Before initiating the Epic upgrade process, there are a few things your team needs to consider to ensure you’re making the most of your investments…

Determine the purpose of the upgrade.

Before initiating the upgrade process, it’s important to determine the purpose of the upgrade to create a more defined focus for employees going into the software upgrade.

Are you upgrading your Epic system just to stay current with the newest version release? Do you need to upgrade specific applications to give your Epic users access to better functionality, improved accessibility, or more advanced features?

Identify the features and functionalities that you need to add or update and ensure the upgrade aligns with your organization’s overall objectives and meets the needs of your pre-defined budget or timeline requirements.

Review system requirements.

Reviewing the requirements for the upgraded system is another important step your team should take to ensure your software solutions are aligned with the technical infrastructure already present throughout your organization.

System requirement reviews can include everything from server hardware, command center operations, core operating systems, network infrastructure, or any other hardware or software that may be affected by the upgrade.

Plan for downtime.

Upgrading your Epic EHR system can cause system downtime, meaning that physicians and other Epic users on your team could experience a lack of access to their internal Epic applications or reduced functionality in specific modules or tools across their Epic system.

Planning for downtime across your organization and communicating the expected duration and any potential impact to users is important in not only preparing your employees for a period of change for their day-to-day operations, but also ensuring all Epic users are aware of changes being made to the system and understand how each change will affect them.

Test the upgrade.

Once your team has defined the requirements of your upcoming upgrade and outlined a plan to complete upgrade processes efficiently and effectively, it’s now time to test the upgrade in a non-production environment before new functionality is made available to all users.

By testing the upgrade before the release date, your upgrade team can identify any potential issues or compatibility problems with the new solutions and ensure all customizations and integrations within the system are operating as expected across areas of the organization.

Train your staff.

Upgrades oftentimes bring new features and changes to the system, which typically require your internal staff to be retrained in certain modules or application capabilities.

Ensuring your upgrade team allocates enough time and resources for user training and provides sufficient support for other employees is critical in determining the level of success for your Epic upgrade project and the employees involved in the process.

How Can We Help?

Whether you need help planning an Epic upgrade to keep your system up-to-date, an extra hand conducting new feature validation and user acceptance testing across your organization, or additional support managing the scope of your upgrade project to meet changing needs, Surety Systems is here to help.

Our team of senior-level Epic consultants has the technical skills and functional expertise needed to lead you to success, no matter where your individual project needs lie.

Getting Started with Us

Interested in learning more about the Epic upgrade process with our team of experienced Epic consultants? Ready to get started on your Epic journey, but don’t know where to begin? Looking for an extra hand to take a load off of your internal testing, training, and reporting team members?

Contact us today for more information about our Epic consulting services!