Do Epic Customers Have EMR Stockholm Syndrome?

John’s Note: I guess Anne didn’t see my post about the EMR Stockholm Syndrome. I think she adds to the discussion with this post though.

According to a recent piece appearing  in,  by next year an astonishing 40 percent the U.S. population will have their medical data stored in an Epic system. Heaven only knows how many billions of dollars of IT capital outlay that represents. What we can safely guess is that not a single customer making up that list failed to make painful sacrifices to bring Epic on board.

Having spent so much and worked so hard to get Epic up and running, you’d expect to hear at least some complaints from hospital C-suites about the ordeal of it all.  And despite its popularity, you’d expect far more hospitals to blanch at the, uh, epic price tag on an Epic install and say “no  thanks.” But instead, you see hospital leader after hospital leader speaking glowingly about Epic and choosing it over competitors time and time again.

As author Paul Levy notes  (himself the former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), Epic isn’t just expensive. It’s also something of a pain to work with:

*  Epic has  made a policy of not being interoperable with other EMRs, scuttling HIE plans that have become increasingly important to hospital business plans

* Epic decides when system upgrades are needed and changes to the EMR are needed

What Paul doesn’t mention, but is worth considering as well, is that Epic only gets installed if you work with teams of its relatively green staff members, hotshot types in their twenties who may be very smart are definitely on the arrogant side if reports I’ve heard are true.

So, if hospitals are still singing Epic’s praises after all of this stress and expense and letting a vendor dictate important aspects of its development roadmap, is the industry suffering from Stockholm Syndrome (a feeling of bonding with people who have captured you)? As Levy sees it, the answer seems to be yes.  What do you think?

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.


  • Anne, I love the question! Though I recall something along the lines of bank bosses or the like and an old saying that no one every got fired for specifying IBM.

    Maybe someone can clear up a few things for me re EPIC;
    1. I’ve been told that different institutions with EPIC can communicate over EPIC’s private network without an HIE.
    2. EPIC will eventually need, for MU compliance in the next stage, to be able to work and play well with other EHRs via HIE connections.
    3. Whether EPIC has API access that would allow specialists to extend EHR functionality for their special needs.
    4. Could it be, on a hospital or hospital system situation, that EPIC in many cases (assuming you buy the right modules and implement them properly) really is superior?
    5. That some hospitals buying EPIC would spend so much money doing so could not or would not spend enough on training and configuration?

  • Epic is another example of what has been consistently produced by the US Politburo of Medicine–Federal agencies and UMCs who control healthcare by producing and controlling use of related information. About thirty years ago, that entity spent ten plus years trying to largely replace doctors with computers as expert diagnosticians. The systems they produced, didn’t work, had no impact and failed commercially. The best systems, evaluated by a team of 14 MDs/PhDs, failed to include the correct diagnosis among >30 listed possibilities in >30% of cases. The New England Journal of Medicine gave those systems a C+, which is sort of like the propaganda wing of the Russian Politburo giving one of it 10 year plans a C+.

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