UHealth Experts Elected to Epic EHR Specialty Steering Boards

Two UHealth – University of Miami Health System providers have joined their colleagues on specialty steering boards for health care software company Epic Systems. Sharing feedback on user experience, helping Epic prioritize updates to the system and acting as overall advisors within their specialties are among their duties during the voluntary, two-year appointments.

Headshot of Dr. Swarup Swaminathan
Swarup Swaminathan, M.D.

Swarup S. Swaminathan, M.D., the Mary Lee and Richard E. Bastin Chair in Ophthalmology at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute of UHealth and assistant professor of clinical ophthalmology at the Miller School of Medicine, will guide Epic regarding their ophthalmology module, called Kaleidoscope. Michael Todd Huber, M.D., M.S., a specialist in hospice and palliative care medicine for UHealth and assistant professor of clinical medicine at the Miller School, joins a separate steering board for Epic’s Palliative Care module.

For Dr. Swaminathan, representing UHealth is important to ensure the technology keeps up with the evolving needs of his specialty. It’s also an opportunity to collaborate and learn during monthly meetings with 11 other ophthalmologists nationwide.

Headshot of Dr. Michael Todd Huber
Michael Todd Huber, M.D., M.S.

“Dr. Swaminathan is the ideal specialist to represent UHealth on this steering board, and to act as a liaison between ophthalmology physicians and the electronic health record technology providers rely on every day to deliver patient care,” said David Reis, Ph.D., chief information and digital officer for UHealth. “I’m looking forward to the many innovations that will come as a result of Dr. Swaminathan’s involvement.”

Artificial Intelligence Potential

One innovation that is likely to come up is artificial intelligence. “There’s a lot of excitement about some potential AI applications within Epic, and we want to make sure we are part of that conversation,” Dr. Swaminathan said.

AI enhancements could help providers draft responses to messages from patients, beyond the feature Epic already offers, for example. AI could also synthesize data from different parts of patient records and create a summary for each provider involved in their care.

Dr. Swaminathan was nominated by Eduardo Alfonso, M.D., director of Bascom Palmer Eye Institute and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the Miller School. Every registered vision provider within Epic was eligible to vote. Dr. Swaminathan said he is grateful for all the support from his UHealth colleagues when running for this position.

Given Dr. Swaminathan’s dual interests in clinical care and health IT, Dr. Alfonso also recommended that he become medical director for clinical informatics. In this position, Dr. Swaminathan meets with UHealth IT staff and advises them on a variety of technology issues on an as-needed basis.

In both roles, Dr. Swaminathan will focus on patient safety, outcomes and data security.

Identifying R&D Priorities

Another purpose of the steering board is to help Epic identify priorities for their research and development teams.

“Epic gets many, many requests for things that end users would like to see,” Dr. Swaminathan said. “How do we identify those factors that are top of the list? As a body, we discuss those capabilities and help them identify top priorities and guide them on other innovations in the pipeline.”

Asked where there could be room for Epic to improve, “There are various things I think can be done better,” Dr. Swaminathan said.

Many EHR systems came with limitations in clinical care because they were initially designed for billing and financial accounting. Some systems were unwieldy to use as a result. “Users were always complaining about the number of clicks needed to do something or the amount of work it took to get rid of some error bar, a pop-up or something like that.”

EHRs have improved over the last 10 years or so with the aim of becoming more clinician-focused and patient-centric, Dr. Swaminathan said. “We’ve had a lot of progress so far, which is great, but there’s always room for more.” Finding ways to further improve the user experience remains an ongoing priority. He added, “AI might be helpful in that.”

Existing UHealth Epic Steering Board members include Jose W. Ruiz, M.D., who advises on the otolaryngology module, and Marilyn Heng, M.D., who advises on the technology for orthopaedics.

Tags: Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, Department of Opthalmology, Dr. David Reis, Dr. Eduardo Alfonso, Dr. Michael Todd Huber, Dr. Swarup Swaminathan, Epic, Epic Systems