Epic Systems, Leading Defense EHR Bidder, Slammed For Lack Of Interoperability

Bob Brewin | Nextgov.com | October 3, 2014

Epic Systems, considered the front-runner for the Defense Department’s $11 billion electronic health record contract, has come under sustained criticism for lack of interoperability with other EHRs, including most recently a front-page story in The New York Times last Sunday.  The Times story reported the privately held Epic, which partnered with IBM for the defense EHR contract, “and its enigmatic founder, Judith R. Faulkner, are being denounced by those who say its empire has been built with towering walls, deliberately built not to share patient information with competing systems.”  Interoperability between Epic and other EHRs is possible, but only after hospitals pay high fees, the Times reported.

Modern Healthcare, in a recent article on Epic, said, “While interface fees are common across the EHR industry, some observers say Epic's leading role in the EHR market means it has a disproportionate negative effect on interoperability.”  This March, in a report on a variety of medical technologies, the Rand Corporation described the Epic EHR as a “closed platform,” which “can make it challenging and costly for hospitals to interface their EHR with the clinical or billing software of other companies.”  Large hospital systems, such as Kaiser Permanente, the second largest health care system in the country with 8.6 million patients – compared to 9.6 million in the military health system – have embraced Epic.

Rand said Epic has “established itself as the enterprisewide solution of choice for large private health care systems and academic medical centers, irrespective of ongoing concerns about its limited interoperability and less-than-ideal usability.”  As the biggest player in the market, Epic has derived huge benefits from the $24 billion of incentive payments paid out by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to clinician and hospitals that adopt EHRs, Rand said.  At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing July 17, Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga, who’s also a doctor, noted the incentive payments were made to encourage interoperability...