Why Larry Ellison thinks Oracle can surpass Epic

While calling Epic a "great company," Oracle co-founder and chair Larry Ellison said his organization aims to service the entire healthcare industry beyond just health systems.

Mr. Ellison said at an April 23 talk that he plans to apply "Musk's law" — or the Tesla co-founder's approach of controlling the electric car supply chain — to healthcare. Oracle bought EHR vendor Cerner in 2022.

"Epic does providers, hospitals," Mr. Ellison told former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, MD, at the Oracle Health Summit in Nashville, Tenn. "But we've also got to automate the payers. By the way, a lot of those are national governments around the world. We've got to automate the pathology department, surveillance. We've got to do medical devices. We've got to help the regulators get automated so the FDA can look at things and approve them much, much faster. You've got to do a better job of automating a lot of the hospitals, helping them manage their workforce."

"How much of that stuff are you going to do?" Dr. Frist asked later.

"All of it," Mr. Ellison said. "We can do all of it."

"We can help you find everything in the hospital," he added. "We can help you order the drugs. We can help the payer and the provider decide very efficiently whether this is a reimbursable transaction or not, or whether you should do a different chemotherapy."

The talk illustrated Mr. Ellison's towering ambitions for healthcare and how he envisions his competition as well more than just the EHR industry (Cerner has been rebranded as Oracle Health since the acquisition). During the same discussion, he revealed Oracle's plans to move its global headquarters to Nashville, saying the city is "at the center of the industry we're most concerned about, which is the healthcare industry."

He said companies with similar aims in healthcare have failed because they didn't take a page from Elon Musk, whose company has revolutionized the electric car business by constructing huge, robotically powered factories, upping battery production, and building thousands of vehicle charging stations around the world.

"Again, Epic's a great company, but they automate hospitals," Mr. Ellison said. "And it's very different automating Memorial Sloan Kettering versus a community hospital in Nebraska, let alone a clinic in a village in Rwanda. And the systems you build have to have the scope.

"They're highly specialized on automating big hospitals. … But not the payer side, not the public health side, not the clinical trial side. None of that."

An Epic spokesperson told Becker's the company serves a wide range of provider organizations — "from small community practices and FQHCs to large academic medical centers" — and its Health Grid partner network includes retail clinics, employer health groups, post-acute care, home care and hospice, and standalone specialties including dialysis, urology, orthopedics and dental.

"The Health Grid also includes groups such as payers, specialty diagnostic laboratories, and medical device manufacturers. All seven of the largest payers in the U.S. are Epic customers. And in February, the first medical device manufacturer joined the Epic community," the spokesperson said. "Organizations using Epic manage thousands of clinical trials for millions of patients each year, and our software is used to support these trials."

Yale New Haven (Conn.) Health and Houston-based Texas Children's Hospital, for instance, employ Epic's MyChart to "make studies more accessible to their patients," the spokesperson said.

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