UHN senior leaders and members of the Synapse Project Team push the button symbolizing Epic go-live at UHN Digital offices in the Atrium on Bay early Saturday morning. (Photo: UHN)

UHN marked a major milestone in its clinical transformation with the push of a symbolic button, virtual fireworks and noisemakers, as the new health information system (HIS) from Epic went live.

The event early Saturday, which was livestreamed across the organization and featured check-ins with teams at each hospital site, was the culmination of nearly two years of amazing work by TeamUHN.

Throughout Saturday and Sunday, clinical teams diligently applied their training and made use of the multiple supports around them as they adapted to the new system while providing high quality patient care. On Monday, as a wider range of services and procedures are performed, more members of TeamUHN will experience "going live" on Epic.

"We've entered a new generation at UHN with the world's best electronic health information system, which is great for our patients, great for research, great for education and great for work-life balance," Dr. Kevin Smith, President & CEO, said moments after the new HIS went live at about 4:30 a.m. on June 4.

"I know the next few hours are going to be challenging, maybe even the next few days but there's no better team to get us through it. With TeamUHN and Team Epic, we are on our way."

The project to implement Epic at UHN is code-named Synapse to symbolize the interconnections created when there's a single source of truth about each patient's medical journey.

With the new HIS now live, there are technical and workflow supports in place for TeamUHN members on the floors at all sites. There is also around-the-clock phone support available.

Registered practical nurses Christina Crichton, (L), and Danielle McGovern, who is wearing a green vest to identify her as a system "super user," working on the new HIS on the Brain Injury Rehab Inpatient Service at 11 South in Toronto Rehab, University Centre, shortly after go-live on Saturday morning. (Photo: UHN)

As expected, there were hiccups and a learning curve to overcome throughout the weekend as the new system went live. But across all sites there was also a strong sense of optimism and appreciation.

"We finally made it!" @TR2406 of the UHN Pharmacy team said on Twitter Sunday in response to a UHN tweet featuring a video of the go-live button push on Saturday morning. "Congrats to our amazing teams and all the hard work to achieve this incredible milestone! Proud to be part of #TeamUHN."

Dr. Nigil Haroon, Head of the Division of Rheumatology at UHN and Sinai Health, had similar comments.

"What a journey," he tweeted Saturday. "Amazing experience working on this truly EPIC implementation. Congratulations to the incredible team behind this mammoth effort."

On Sunday, in an email to UHN senior leaders and shared with permission to UHN News, Dr. Mansoor Husain, who worked this weekend as an attending on-call on the Coronary Intensive Care Unit at Toronto General Hospital, wrote "how great the Epic implementation has been.

"Sure, there are some speed bumps, and of course we are going through some growing/learning pains, but the power of this EMR (electronic medical record) is truly remarkable. The more complex and sicker our patient, the more useful Epic is in facilitating their care.

"Thank you for getting this for UHN."

On 7A, the Transplant Unit at Toronto General Hospital, an advanced user in a blue vest and at-the-elbow support person in the orange vest, assist a nurse. (Photo: UHN)

Also on Saturday, Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) went live with its new HIS from Epic. The two hospital networks exchanged congratulations via social media on their successful implementation.

"I am sure that our @UHN friends had as great and exhausting a day as we did @HamHealthSci yesterday," Dr. Deepak Dath, a liver and pancreatic surgeon at HHS and St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton wrote on Twitter on Sunday. "Two large institutions that both started Epic in the wee hours of the morning.

"So many patients in these two hospitals have just had their care teams go paperless."

Others across the healthcare community also offered their congratulations and support.

"Congratulations UHN team on reaching this milestone in clinical transformation," the Canadian College of Healthcare Leaders, Greater Toronto Area Chapter, posted in a tweet on Saturday.

Dr. Chris Simpson, Executive Vice President, Medical, at Ontario Health tweeted: "Congrats to @uhn – a great achievement!"

A team wearing orange vests, to signify they offer at-the-elbow support, at Toronto Western Hospital on Saturday. (Photo: UHN)

Dr. Lisa Richardson, a General Internal Medicine physician at UHN, summed up the feelings of many across TeamUHN with a tweet on Saturday afternoon.

"Epic day today at work with the transition to a new electronic medical record," she wrote. "It seemed to go as smoothly as possible (despite the fears we had about the transition).

"Thank you to all the super users and support staff who were so patient."

UHN speech-language pathologist Talya Wolff echoed those sentiments.

"Feeling so proud of our @UHN teams as we turned on the switch and have gone live with Epic," she wrote on Twitter on Saturday. "A great team and hard work can get anything done!! #gratitude #UHNproud #UHNClinicalTransformation."

Farrah Schwartz, Manager of UHN Patient Education and Engagement, tweeted:"Such an exciting achievement! There was so much work to get here and now that we are, there are so many possibilities for transformation." She also noted that myUHN Patient Portal has "so many new features!"

Members of the Command Centre at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre confer on Sunday, the second day of Epic go-live at UHN. (Photo: UHN)

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