Epic + Oracle Health: What top execs plan for this year

Leaders from two of the largest EHR companies in the U.S. set ambitious goals for the coming months related to artificial intelligence, interoperability and business growth. How do they compare?

Epic Systems
Verona, Wis.-based Epic has the largest acute care hospital market share at 36%, according to the 2023 KLAS data, and the company has continued to add hospitals and health systems over the last year. Many hospitals transition after being acquired by larger health systems, and several organizations have decided to integrate the all hospital and ambulatory locations onto a single instance of Epic in the last year.

While the EHR giant's geographic footprint spreads, Epic has touted its commitment to interoperability by signing the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement and collaborating with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Sequoia Project to build out the principles of the agreement.

The company is also focused on accelerating artificial intelligence within healthcare. Epic is building a 60-tool suite of generative AI applications focused on lowering the administrative burden for clinicians. The tools include a function to help physicians write responses to patients through portal messages, according to Forbes, and the AI generated responses were preferred by clinicians and patients because they sounded "more empathetic," Judy Faulkner, founder and CEO of Epic, told Forbes.

Epic showcased many of its tools at HIMSS in mid-March to solve challenges around staffing shortages, patient flow and revenue cycle management. The company aims to automate administrative functions and simple tasks. It is also building some generative AI-tools in-house and developing others through its partnership with Microsoft, which is an investor in OpenAI, according to Forbes.

Epic is working on both clinical and administrative use cases for generative AI, and is exploring low-risk areas to deploy generative AI first. One of the company's current works-in-progress is a patient-facing generative AI tool to explain patients' bills to them, according to Forbes. The tool would outline different aspects of the bill and wouldn't need human review. Epic expects the tool could be ready by November.

Oracle Health
Oracle Health, which owns the legacy Cerner EHR, is thinking big when it comes to growth. Larry Ellison, chair and chief technology officer of Oracle, laid out the company's plan to revolutionize health data management within its cloud infrastructure shortly after acquiring Cerner in June 2022.

Over the last year, Oracle moved the majority of Cerner customers to the company's gen2 Cloud infrastructure and has plans to deliver its new ambulatory clinic cloud applications in the second quarter, Mr. Ellison said during the company's third quarter fiscal year earnings call March 11. He also mentioned Oracle adding generative AI capabilities to its EHR and launching a clinical digital assistant to automate prescription generation and EHR updates.

"The delivery of our new AI-centric healthcare cloud applications, including the ambulatory clinic system, the clinical digital assistant, and the health data intelligence system, will enable the rapid modernization of our customers' healthcare systems and transform Oracle Health and Cerner into a high-growth business for years to come," said Mr. Ellison on the call.

While Oracle Health's EHR has gained some hospitals, it's also lost hospitals amid consolidation and system transitions. But Oracle Health Chair David Feinberg, MD, told STAT Cerner isn't competing with Epic; instead, the company's strategy will be to "close the gap with cloud services from supply chain management to claims processing."

Dr. Feinberg told STAT Oracle Health could sell cloud services connected to other companies' health records and "still come out on top."

"Oracle is working to build on existing IT infrastructure — even for health systems using different EHRs — to help provide the best possible care for patients," Dr. Feinberg wrote in a LinkedIn post. "We remain committed to helping care teams everywhere use clinical data to improve health outcomes."

Like Epic, Oracle is also focused on interoperability, Seema Verma, executive vice president and general manager for health and life sciences at Oracle, noted in a recent interview posted on Oracle's website. She said the company planned to be EHR-agnostic to support data sharing and improving healthcare through more personalized medicine and disease prevention. She said the company wants to "work with everyone."

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