Is Epic Really That Much Better?

I’ve been in the healthcare IT industry for 30 years. I’ve seen a variety of HCIS vendors blossom and fade or enter the space and fail completely. I’ve also seen vendors move up and down in revenue. Epic, however, seems different.

Epic came on the scene in 1979, created a loyal following in the outpatient space and later moved into the inpatient space with implementations at prestigious sites. At present, while the industry is reeling from the introduction of new requirements and new user preferences, Epic continues to gain market share. Not all the players are losing, but Epic is definitely winning.

There is a higher premium involved with installing an Epic system. The total price tag can run 50-100% higher than other HCIS vendors. It’s unclear whether that premium is due to the software or the implementation. I understand Epic requires a 200 bed hospital to have at least 25 implementation people for two years. Is the implementation the reason for the difference in both cost and acceptance? If so, would it not be possible to supplement existing systems with better implementations and come close to the same solution?

Budgets are tight and everyone is complaining they keep getting tighter. Given the higher premium, I can’t help but ask — is Epic that much better?? It’s a question I have as a member and observer of the healthcare IT community. What is so special about Epic? What is its “secret sauce”? There appears to be a justification for moving to Epic and I’m curious what it is.

Talking to end-users, clinicians in particular, I find that they like the Epic system, but there are parts they don’t like. The customer doesn’t have a choice with respect to how much they implement — if they purchase Epic, they are required to take an implementation course, and must make the significant allocation of resources to go along with it. I spoke with a physician who asked the hospital administrator if he could be excused from training. The administrator said that they couldn’t allow any exceptions to the training because it was written into their Epic contract.

Again, the question – is Epic worth it? What is it about Epic that justifies making the move?  I’d like to get your thoughts and feedback. If you’re an Epic user, or Epic want-to-be, let’s talk!

Posted in Healthcare Information Systems.

Arthur Young is a visionary healthcare information systems entrepreneur who has focused Interbit Data’s offerings on providing secure and reliable methods of connecting users with HCIS information. Prior to founding Medical Systems Solutions (the precursor to Interbit Data) in 1997, Arthur spent 10 years with MEDITECH and three years at JJWild.

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