A Big Year Coming For HIEs, With Epic Leading the Way

Folks, I’m afraid that when it comes to Epic, I haven’t followed the old “if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything” rule.  In fact, I’ve been a fairly ruthless critic of the company, whose veni, vidi, vici attitude rubs me the wrong way.

That being said, I was fascinated to note that Epic may be at forefront of hospital EMR vendors enabling health information exchange.  If Epic’s own claims are to be believed, it’s a force for clinical data sharing unlike most out there today.

A couple of days ago, ONC chief Farzad Mostashari told the Health IT Policy Committee that he expects to see a big ramp-up in HIE implementations this year. He believes that the necessary elements for interoperability are falling into place, including standards, identity authentication certificates, governance requirements and the availability of directories.

Mostashari cited efforts by Epic as a model for what can be accomplished in 2012.  And Judy Faulkner, Epic CEO and a policy committee member, told members that hospitals using its product have already exchanged 800,000 documents nationally. She expects users to begin sharing documents overseas, as well.

What’s more, Faulkner contends that as standards fall into place, sharing across vendors will be”almost equally as simple” as Epic-to-Epic sharing.  I find it hard to imagine, but if she and her team can pull that off, it will indeed be impressive.

I’m rather skeptical that it will be as easy as Faulkner suggests, for practical reasons as much as technical ones.  And given that Faulkner has asserted that hospitals should go all-Epic rather than mix and match systems, it’s hard to imagine Epic as a “we interoperate” kinda company.

On the other hand, given Epic’s status as a market leader, this may be one of the few chances the industry has had to pull together and find a common way to share data. As much as it sticks in my craw, and believe me, it does, I have to admit that Faulkner & Co. may have something there.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

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