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.
Meanwhile, Epic has teamed with IBM to compete with several other heavyweights for a multibillion-dollar contract to modernize the U.S. Defense Department's clinical technology systems.
Bradford Card, the CEO of Card & Associates, said in an interview that Epic has been the “subject of misinformation.” His firm, Card said, will work to set the record straight. “There have been stories that they're not interoperable when in fact they are.”
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."
An Epic spokesman confirmed that this is the first time the company has retained a lobbying firm to voice its interests on the Hill. “We have engaged government relations support to help educate legislators on what is happening with healthcare IT and in particular, on advancing EHRs and interoperability.”
Card & Associates has been registered on behalf of groups such as the National Troopers Coalition, the Association of Proprietary Colleges and World Trade Center Properties. In healthcare, Card has also represented the Greater New York Hospital Association, a trade association representing 250 hospitals in New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
Card previously was chief of staff for former Rep. John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), and his brother is former George W. Bush chief of staff Andrew Card.
Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir