Epocrates EMR Killed Immediately After Launch

Back in 2010, Epocrates had its EMR ducks in a row. The company, known best for a very popular smartphone-based drug interaction database for physicians, announced plans to release a mobile SaaS EMR.  While Epocrates was jumping into a market more crowded than a barrel full of monkeys, one could see where leaders might see an EMR as an extension of the relationship it already had with physicians.

Now, Epocrates leaders have said “oops” and announced that they were killing the product,  telling investors and the public that building the darned thing was distracting it from its core business.  It does seem that the company was struggling with the EMR rollout process:  it didn’t roll out its first-phase product until August 2011 and didn’t get its Meaningful Use certification until February of this year. But this is the first time I’ve seen a company kill a product at this stage of development, particularly in such a high-profile manner.

It must have been more than a bit embarrassing to make the announcement during HIMSS12 when, of course, companies traditionally kick off products they’re planning to sell vigorously. As Epocrates was making plans to dump or sell their EMR, the company’s CMIO, Tom Giannulli, MD, was pitching the company’s new iPad EMR to editors.

As Epocrates itself pointed out, there aren’t too many dedicated iPad EMR offerings out there. So in theory, this should not have been a waste of the company’s time.  On the other hand, with the iPad still a new frontier for EMRs, we still don’t know whether it will ultimately work as a platform of choice for physicians.  As we’ve previously discussed on this blog, the iPad seems to be a pretty good medium for reading data but a very awkward one for entering data. Whether that’s a fatal flaw remains to be seen.

Truthfully, this looks like a failure of execution from start to finish, rather than a product that couldn’t possibly work. But these are tough times. Even the best execution may not work; and if so, Epocrates was probably wise to fold its cards before further damage was done.

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.


  • I remember when I first heard about the Epocrates EHR a few years back. In fact, here’s a video interview with them at HIMSS: https://www.healthcareittoday.com//2010/03/14/matthew-holts-impressions-from-himss/

    I agree that they had some really great relationships with doctors that could be leveraged really well. Although, the one thing that I think was likely missing was the culture of the company wasn’t really built around an EHR like product. EHR software is quite a bit different than the software they’re most well known for.

    It’s too bad and is quite amazing that they’d go this far in developing an EHR and then shut it down.

  • Seems to me like they were just too early to the party and should have hung in there. The mobile EMR market isn’t really a market yet and you can’t burn through cash trying to make a market where there isn’t one. But if instead they had developed close relationships with a few visionary clinic systems and saved the cash for the real push in 2014, they might have succeeded. Seems like a great product and speech recognition is rapidly solving the problem of mobile device narrative input.

Click here to post a comment