Much of the Epic campus is space-themed—its corporate address is 1979 Milky Way—so Tuesday's opening light show, thunderous surround sound, cosmic videos projected onto five giant flat screen TVs, product demos at the mock Area 51 Medical Center, announcements about the achievements of Epic customers and future “cool stuff,” all had an astral aspect.
Not surprisingly, Faulkner praised the federal electronic health-record incentive payment program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which has been very good for business. Epic leads among health IT vendors with the most hospital and “eligible professional” clients that have used its complete EHR systems to meet “meaningful use” targets and get paid under the Medicare portion of the program, stats Faulkner proudly displayed on a pair of bar charts during her presentation.
“Meaningful use allowed many organizations to get money for what they really wanted to do and needed to do,” Faulkner said. “It's been a very successful program.”
One problem is, though, providers “had to put things in quickly,” she said. “I think it would be good if there would be some breathing time. Time to examine what you have. Time to improve your organization with your new tools and time to get good and add value.”
“I'm saying a pause, maybe five years, maybe something else, but a pause,” she said.
Epic President Carl Dvorak used his time on stage to take a shot at Epic's critics regarding its alleged lack of interoperability.
“Sometimes people whisper” that it's hard to exchange information with Epic systems, Dvorak said. But Epic customers exchange nearly 1.3 million records a month using commonly deployed standards from Health Level 7, including its Continuity of Care Document format, he said. Of those, roughly 400,000 per month are exchanged with providers with EHR systems other than from Epic, according to a graph in his presentation. Epic supports both the federal Direct project for peer-to-peer “push” communication between providers and the collaborative, federally initiated eHealth Exchange protocols for “pull,” or query, of patient records, he said.
“We just don't need another middle man on the road to interoperability,” Dvorak said. The remark was in likely reference to the CommonWell Health Alliance, a proposed interoperability project launched in March by five major Epic rivals.
The meeting runs through Wednesday. Faulkner said an estimated 15,000 people are expected to attend.
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn