Does Epic hinder innovation? Depends on when you ask.
Despite adding to the sea of complaints about electronic health record companies, Fairview Health Services leaders are optimistic about working with their vendor, Epic Systems Corp.
That take on the relationship came a few days after Fairview CEO James Hereford blasted Epic for hindering technological development. The not-for-profit, 11-hospital health system then took a different tack, saying the EHR vendor does, in fact, help innovate.
"Given Epic's prominence as an electronic health record provider, they are uniquely positioned to support collaboration for innovation in healthcare," said Erika Taibl, system director of corporate communications for Fairview.
Epic leads in U.S. market share in acute-care hospitals, with 25.8% of the market in 2016, followed closely by Cerner Corp., with 24.6%. Verona, Wis.-based Epic stands by its approach to development and innovation, which includes the vendor's take on an app store, the App Orchard, where developers can access Epic's application programming interface.
But Fairview's CEO disagreed when speaking at a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal panel discussion recently. He suggested the vendor should open up its platform and that healthcare executives should lead the charge asking it to do so.
Hereford—who was not available for additional comment—has years of experience with Epic. Before joining Fairview in 2016, he was chief operating officer of Stanford University Medical Center, which also uses Epic.
Healthcare executives and others have long complained about their EHRs, no matter the vendor, saying that the systems aren't as user-friendly as they should be, that implementations hurt their bottom lines, that vendors misled them about capabilities, and that they cause information overload.
Indeed, it may be that EHRs themselves, not specific software, are the root of some of the gripes. "Anytime you automate a process, regardless of the software, it's harder to change that process," said Christopher Longhurst, chief information officer for UC San Diego Health. "Automation is fundamentally in conflict with Lean improvement."
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