Epic 'fact checks' recent comments made by athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush

It's not just news organizations and political campaigns that are fact checking public statements: Epic has fact checked a recent interview between athenahealth Co-founder and CEO Jonathan Bush and MedCity News.

In the interview, published in mid-September, Jonathan Bush is asked what he would do if he were a hospital CIO and about the role of EHR vendors and state of interoperability today.

The interviewer asked Mr. Bush what he would ask of Epic if he were a hospital CIO with Epic's EHR.

"I would ask them to connect and that's starting to happen," Mr. Bush said. He added that athenahealth is now able to connect to "most of the Epic hospitals in the country," and that they have only been able to do so in the past couple of months.

Epic, in its fact-checking post, said that statement is false. "Epic customers have been exchanging patient records with others since 2008. One hundred percent of Epic's live customers are able to connect with other groups that use either Epic or non-Epic systems," according to the post.

Peter DeVault, director of interoperability at Epic, said in a March 2015 Senate committee testimony that Care Everywhere, Epic's platform for exchanging records, launched in 2005. In March, Epic announced close to a quarter of a billion patient records were exchanged using Care Everywhere in the previous 12 months with Epic users, non-Epic users, health information exchanges and more.

Mr. Bush also said in the interview that Epic and athenahealth specifically were only able to connect in the past couple of months, which Epic refutes, saying Epic and athenahealth sites started to connect in May 2014.

Mr. Bush did mention, when asked, how non-Epic users can interact with Epic today. He said outside vendors can access continuity of care documents from Epic's database, which is a requirement of meaningful use. "Epic did the technical, legal thing which is their only obligation," Mr. Bush said.

In the interview, Mr. Bush said he doesn't believe there should be EHR vendors. "I believe records should be national networks like cable companies…I think if I were a CIO, I would sign on to a national network like athenahealth and I would not attempt to build my own biosphere of clinical information," he said.

In comments to Becker's Hospital Review, Eric Helsher, a spokesperson for Epic, said Epic agrees there should be a connected network of EHRs, and that is the precise goal of Carequality, a national interoperability framework that vendors, providers and other networks can adopt to enable data exchange.

Both Epic and athenahealth have adopted this framework.

Mr. Bush said in the interview Epic was subpoenaed by the House Energy and Commerce committee regarding information blocking.

"Epic has never been subpoenaed by Congress," Epic wrote in the report.

Note: athenahealth did not immediately return a request for comment.

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