'Rule Out Epic': An early client pitch fueled Epic's strategy

It's hard to imagine a health system immediately ruling Epic out of contention, but early on the company faced an uphill battle to build its reputation in the industry.

In her "Hey Judy" blog, Epic founder Judy Faulkner recounted her experience many years ago demonstrating the software with a large health system. The company was small at that point and was invited to pitch Epic alongside a competitor for the well-known health system. Upon meeting system leaders, she said the system shared what they were looking for from a partner.

"One of the slides just had three words on it: 'Rule Out Epic,'" Ms. Faulkner wrote in her blog. "They explained that one of their consultants had told them they really should look at Epic. They didn't know anything about us, but they agreed to do that, and they needed now to rule us out."

The software demonstration went well, and Ms. Faulkner was asked back with her team for a second round of interviews where they were up against the system's top vendor choice. Each company was asked to respond to multiple possible scenarios.

It took the Epic team 15 minutes, while the competitor was in the session for an hour.

"The difference, we learned, was that all our software was integrated, so data had to be entered only once," wrote Ms. Faulkner. "The other vendor had a collection of acquired modules, each different. They had to re-enter the data from one module to another every time they went back and forth between the modules."

Ms. Faulkner has a policy against acquiring other companies and integrating their offerings into Epic, arguing a clunky integration could disrupt the brand. Ms. Faulkner wrote in 2022 the company has never invested in another company and doesn't intend to because "it would be a distraction."

The acquired property would have different code, terminology, design and more, and may not be as patient-focused as internally developed products.

Epic, which was founded in 1979 with three part-time employees, has grown to become the EHR market leader in acute care hospitals. Epic has around 36% of the market, compared with the 25% that Oracle Cerner has. In 2022, Epic added 83 hospitals and 14,330 beds to its network. Around 305 million people have medical records with Epic's MyChart.

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