After years of planning and training, they flipped the switch at 3:54 a.m. Saturday in Rochester.

Mayo Clinic transitioned its electronic health records, billing, registration, scheduling and patient movement systems all to a new computer platform created by Epic Systems. The overall project was estimated to cost about $1.5 billion.

"It’s a historic day for Mayo Clinic!" was posted on the clinic employees' Facebook page.

"This is the culmination of years of planning, preparing and training. A core team of 460 people took on the task of preparing 26,000 staff members for this transition. Thousands more became involved with related projects. Six command centers continue to brim with activity to make sure the transition stays on track," according to the post.

The Epic transition had already taken place at Mayo Clinic's Wisconsin facilities and other Minnesota sites. However, the Rochester switch was anticipated to be most complex.

This transition touches almost every aspect of Mayo Clinic for patients and staff.

As such, adapting to the new systems is expected to take some time.

Many Mayo Clinic employees posted on social media that their first shifts under the new Epic systems were the most difficult ones in their careers.

That matches the experience of others who have made the transition. Dr. Kevin Johnson, the chief informatics officer for Vanderbilt University Medical Center, led Vanderbilt’s four hospitals' transition to Epic in November.

He said the first days "will feel like doom.”

With extensive technical support, things quickly became better for staff, Johnson said.

In Rochester, hundreds of nurses with Epic experience were flown in to assist the Mayo Clinic nurses with the transition. Those nurses are expected to be here for the first four weeks of using Epic. 

This project began in 2015, when Mayo Clinic signed a contract with Epic to consolidate its medical records systems, currently provided by Cerner Corp. and General Electric. The majority of U.S. medical records are already managed by Epic Systems and the Mayo deal greatly expanded Epic’s position in the competitive industry.

Rochester’s Olmsted Medical Center is also working on its own $28 million transition to an Epic system.

OMC will start its own Epic training for about 1,150 employees in late June to prepare for its own “Go Live Day” on Sept. 29, according to OMC’s Chief Information Officer Tom Ogg.

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