Epic Retains Lobbyist to Improve Image on Capitol Hill

Darius Tahir | Modern Healthcare | September 10, 2014

Electronic health-record giant Epic Systems Corp. has hired a lobbying firm for the first time to counter a perception on Capitol Hill that its EHR systems aren't interoperable with other vendors' technology. The Verona, Wis.-based company retained lobbyists Card & Associates in August, according to the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act database. Epic says in the registration that it's making the move to “educate members of Congress on the interoperability of Epic's healthcare information technology.”

The move is out of character for Epic, which has a reputation for doing its own thing and staying out of the D.C. fray, sources with knowledge of the lobbying business and health IT said. But the company is now finding itself fighting a perception that its technology is out of step with the drive toward interoperability...

In a July hearing, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), had sharp words for the company, citing a RAND Corp. report claiming Epic's systems were “closed records.” “Is the government getting its money's worth?" Gingrey asked, arguing that the subsidy program encouraging EHR adoption was intended to push interoperability. "It may be time for the (Energy and Commerce) committee to take a closer look at the practices of vendor companies in this space, given the possibility that fraud may be perpetrated on the American taxpayer."...

Open Health News' Take: 

Given all the stories that have appeared in the press on the subject, it seems to be that it is not Congress that is sadly mis-informed about Epic's lack of interoprability, but Epic's customers. Perhaps Epic Systems needs to hire lobbyists to explain that to their customers.