Epic's focus today and what comes next: 5 updates from Judy Faulkner

Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner participated in Cleveland Clinic's Ideas for Tomorrow virtual speaker series on Sept. 2.

She discussed the company's COVID-19 response, business philosophy and current projects that aim to decrease physician burnout and increase evidence-based medicine.

Five takeaways:

1. Epic is experimenting with ambient voice technology and artificial intelligence. She said AI has been part of the company's technology for many years, initially alerting clinicians about potential drug interactions. The technology is now evolving from rules-based AI to machine-based AI with statistical methods used to produce algorithms.

2. Physician burnout with technology is a big concern for EHR vendors, and Ms. Faulkner said that physician notes in the U.S. are four times longer than notes from physicians overseas, primarily due to administrative overhead, which includes information insurance companies require for payment. Epic is partnering with payers to automatically input some of that information into medical records to reduce the burden on clinicians.

3. The organizations most successful at combating clinician burnout with EHRs spend more time on the front end customizing their EHR and engaging physician builders within each specialty to adjust the software to the workflow where possible, and then make changes to workflows when the software can't be adjusted.

4. Epic's Cosmos database initiative aimed to have more than 50 million records by the end of 2020; the company now has 60 million records and more are being added every day. Ms. Faulkner said the company hopes to accelerate evidence-based medicine with Cosmos and make the technology available to more physicians across the U.S.

5. Epic created the "BFF" — or Best Friends Forever — program to develop relationships with their customers. The Epic BFF is essentially a client manager tasked with understanding what the client does well and spreading it organizationwide; this person also relays best practices from other organizations to help their clients optimize the technology and improve. "I've seen at some meetings, customers put their arms around their BFF and proudly say 'This is our BFF.' I don't think they'd say the same for an account manager," said Ms. Faulkner. "I've heard some people say 'My BFF is better than your BFF.' The response is if we both feel that way, then we're good."

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