Bruce Friedman, in a post on Lab Soft News says, "Epic has achieved a near monopoly of the (electronic health-record systems) installed in the largest U.S. hospitals."
Not yet an Epic monopoly or conflict
And writing in the Washington Examiner, Lachlan Markay, an investigative writer with the conservative Heritage Foundation's Center for Media and Public Policy, reveals that Epic Systems Corp. CEO Judith Faulkner not only has made campaign contributions to Democrats but also has served as a member of the federal Health Information Technology Policy Committee, which "holds in its hands the future of health information technology policy."
Well, Epic is on a roll. But market share is measurable, so I spoke with Jason Hess, general manager of clinical research with health IT market watcher Klas Enterprises of Orem, Utah. Hess shared with me data from his company's latest survey of 1,467 U.S. hospitals and 151 Canadian hospitals with 200 or more beds.
Klas' research shows that Epic's sales in the 200-plus bed market have soared from 2005 through 2010. By the end of 2010, Epic was in a virtual tie with Cerner for the No. 2 spot, with about 290 installations. The same research also depicts a glide path on which Epic could overtake market leader Meditech, with about 325 installations, in a year or two—if present trends continue.
"Does Epic have a monopoly?" Hess said. "Not yet, but you can see where they're going. Epic is just taking the majority of those large-market wins."
But even if Epic gets to 325 hospital installations by the end of 2011, 20% of a market segment does not a monopoly make.
I've covered most of the Health IT Policy Committee meetings since May 2009. I've listened in by telephone or over the Internet, so I haven't been able to see what committee members have held in their hands, but I don't think it has been the future of health IT policy, literally or figuratively. That committee is an important sounding board for HHS, but even the feds, with their $27 billion in meaningful-use money, aren't the dictators of U.S. health IT policy.
Furthermore, Faulkner, ranked No. 44 on Modern Healthcare's 2011 list of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare, and her occasional Health IT Policy Committee stand-in, Epic Executive Vice President Carl Dvorak, have made their voices heard. That's what they're supposed to do. Congress reserved one seat on the 17-member committee for a representative of IT vendors. But I've never heard either one of them try to overtly bend the committee to Epic's will or way alone.
Back in October 2010, Faulkner chimed in at a Health IT Policy meeting, telling then-ONC head Dr. David Blumenthal that the proposed timeline being discussed for Stage 2 meaningful-use criteria seemed a bit tight. Faulkner asked if it could be moved back six months, and, eventually, in the policy committee's recommendations to ONC, Stage 2 compliance by those early adopters of Stage 1 was, in fact, moved back a full year.
Did these comments and others corrupt the process? Is this evidence of an Epic thumb on the federal policy scale?
I just don't see it.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn.
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