'We were actually the originators of interoperability,' says Epic CEO Judy Faulkner — but challenges remain

Epic CEO Judy Faulkner touted the company's stance and history with interoperability during an interview at CNBC's Healthy Returns Summit.

At the beginning of the year, Ms. Faulkner opposed the ONC's interoperability final rules and gathered a coalition of hospital leaders to sign a letter opposing them as well. During the CNBC interview on May 12, Bertha Coombs asked Ms. Faulkner whether the pandemic changed her outlook on interoperability and sharing data.

Ms. Faulkner replied: "We were actually the originators of interoperability. That was in the early 2000s, and it was because my husband, who's a physician, had a patient who was under good care, but she went with her family to another city. She got sick, she went to the emergency department, and she died. And he kept saying, 'If they had her record, they would have known what to do. It would have been easy.'"

Ms. Faulkner went on to say that she asked the HIMSS board about standardized data for interoperability and "their answer was pretty much, 'Don't hold your breath.'" As a result, she said Epic created a system that would be interoperable between Epic users — but not with other EHR systems. She said Epic retrofitted software so all of the company's systems would be able to communicate, and developed the Share Everywhere technology that makes Epic interoperable for patients anywhere.

But not all health IT leaders have had an easy time making Epic systems interoperable.

"It takes gymnastics to get an Epic system to talk to a non-Epic system," Austin, Texas-based Dell Medical School and UT Austin CIO Aaron Miri told CNBC in an article about interoperability. The problem lies within the lack of a unique code to identify patients, which complicates efforts to match patients with their records outside of the Epic system.

More articles on health IT:
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