Columbia University Medical Center

EpicTogether Project Moves Toward Completion of Phase 1 “Direction,” and Prepares for “Adoption”

Timothy J. Crimmins, MD, RPVI

Timothy J. Crimmins, MD, RPVI, chief medical information officer, ColumbiaDoctors

A plethora of EpicTogether Direction Sessions filled the calendars of Columbia administrators, faculty and staff during the month of June, as the faculty practice began planning a July 24 Town Hall to brief stakeholders from around the medical center about the changes being considered.

The second round of Direction Sessions is now under way and subject matter experts (SMEs) from Columbia, Weill Cornell Medicine (WCM), and NewYork-Presbyterian are flocking to off-campus boardrooms to preview, assess, and give feedback on initial workflows produced by Epic for the tripartite group.

“We’ve declared Round 1 of the Direction Sessions a success, and we have lessons learned that we are using to help advance the next two sessions,” said Timothy J. Crimmins, MD, RPVI, ColumbiaDoctors chief medical information officer.

A total of 1,200 participants moved through the first round of sessions in the early weeks of June, he said, and Direction Session 2 began on June 26, with the third and final round of sessions scheduled to begin on July 16.

In a report to the ColumbiaDoctors Executive Committee, Dr. Crimmins stated that so far, the SMEs are generally leaning toward adopting best practices recommended by Epic and noted the final product will “find a balance between what Epic recommends and what’s achievable” at our institutions.

Columbia benefits from the pragmatic experience of our partners at WCM, he said, adding that this institutional insight gives us the opportunity to “reconsider, re-prioritize, and not overload physicians” when making new workflow recommendations.

Clinicians can expect to see a regular cadence of consistent messages from the EpicTogether team through the summer, as all follow-ups from the Direction Sessions are closed out by the end of July. An executive summary will be prepared, and those decisions will drive a change management plan.

Town Hall, July 24

Dr. Crimmins informed the committee that a three-session Columbia Town Hall meeting is in the planning stages and attendees from around the medical center would be welcomed to hear about critical workflow changes as Direction Sessions draw to a close at the end of July.  

“Invitations will be extended to the entire community,” he said, “because we want to give everyone at the medical center multiple opportunities to learn more about how the EpicTogether project will affect their daily lives at work.”  A total of three one-hour Town Hall Sessions will be held on Tuesday, July 24 at P&S Amphitheater 1. A broadcast email containing the invitation and more details on the event will be sent shortly to the CUIMC community.

Next Up, Stage 2: Adoption

Adoption, the second phase of the EpicTogether project is right around the corner in August, and invitations already have been distributed to SMEs and the clinical leadership groups (CLGs) to take a closer look at final, revised workflows.

At this point, Epic will create a flowchart that will document each workflow that is approved by the groups. This highly detailed flowchart “will document decisions made and the participants who have made decisions along the way to lead to final changes on behalf of the tripartite group,” Dr. Crimmins said.

“It is vital that we understand all of the implications of decisions being made for the entire organization, and divisions and departments are taking it upon themselves to have a closer look at the workflows used by peer organizations, such as Mayo, Vanderbilt, and Hopkins, to see a recent implementation before Epic starts writing code,” he said.

Departments must own this change, he said, and the FPO will back these efforts. “We are ahead of the curve on this, and will be standing up resources as necessary to support the departments’ change management efforts,” he said.

“We don’t see any fatal flaws in the system,” he said, “but we know we will have problems at go live, because no system is perfect. We will be standing up a robust command center and extensive, durable support system that will stay with the institution post go-live,” he said.

Got Questions?

For questions about Direction Sessions, please contact the SME Program Manager, Ginu John ( Visit the Columbia website for Columbia-specific stories regarding Epic at For more general content on EpicTogether, visit