Magazine article Medical Economics

Will Epic Stifle Information Technology Innovation?

Magazine article Medical Economics

Will Epic Stifle Information Technology Innovation?

Article excerpt

Epic is the nearly undisputed leader of the electronic health record (EHR) world. About 40% of the U.S. population has its medical information stored in an Epic EHR system, and the company often sits atop research firm KLAS' rankings of best-available EHR systems.

EPIC HAS many big-name clients who have spent a great deal of money on its systems: $700 million from Duke University Health System; $700 million from Boston's Partners Healthcare; $150 million from the University of California, San Francisco; and $80 lion from DartmouthHitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, Forbes magazine reported last year.

So it's not surprising that such a high-profile company has attracted critics who warn that its market dominance could have harmful effects on the future of health information technology, EHRs, and even patient care. Worse, those critics warn, Epic has achieved much of its market dominance on the backs of taxpayerscourtesy of $35 billion in federal subsidies paid to hospitals and doctors to purchase EHR systems.

'As a country, we get nervous when any company in any sector has a market share in the range of 40% because we know that companies will use their market dominance to limit consumer options and hold back technological advancement',' wrote Paul Levy, former chief executive officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, on his "Not Running a Hospital" blog.

Levy made waves in health information technology (HIT) circles recently when he compared the Epic customer experience to the Stockholm syndrome, which occurs when hostages begin to empathize with and have positive feelings for their captors.

Aside from the taxpayer subsidies Epic has indirectly received, what really rankles the company's critics is that Epic's is a "closed" system, meaning that it doesn't share patient data well with doctors or hospitals who don't use Epic's software. …

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