10 things to know about Epic

Epic Systems is one of the most well-known names in the world of health IT.

As the EHR supplier for hospitals around the world, Epic has established itself without going public and with little marketing efforts. From its eccentric campus to its relationship with clients, here are 10 things to know about the company.

1. Epic was founded in a basement in 1979 by Judy Faulkner. With 1.5 employees, the company was originally called Human Services Computing but rebranded as Epic Systems in 1983, according to Isthmus. In its early stages, Epic and the precursor to American Girl utilized the same basement in a Madison, Wis., apartment.

2. Ms. Faulkner, a programmer, initially had no intention of founding a company. But after requests from clients, she chose to start a company based on the clinical data management system she'd created. At a meeting during the company's early stages, a client grabbed a dictionary and looked up the definition of "epic": "the glorious recounting of a nation's events." The group liked the name and decided to go with it. "Like the 'Iliad' or the 'Odyssey,' our electronic health records chronicle the story of a patient's healthcare over time," Epic's website quips.

3. Ms. Faulkner serves as Epic's CEO. As of Jan. 17, 2017, Forbes valued her worth at $2.2 billion. Last year, Ms. Faulkner ranked No. 3 on Forbes' list of "America's Richest Self-Made Women" and No. 79 on Forbes' list of "Richest People in Tech."

In 2015, Ms. Faulkner pledged 99 percent of her wealth to philanthropy by joining the Giving Pledge, a an initiative in which some of the world's wealthiest individuals pledge to donate the majority of their assets to philanthropy.

4. Located in Verona, Wis. — approximately 11 miles south of Madison — Epic's headquarters is unique. The company hired the architects who designed Disneyland to blueprint a creative campus, according to The Boston Globe. A sculpture of Humpty Dumpty sits on a wall near the entrance to the headquarters. Each section of the campus has a different theme, from farming to castles to New York City's Grand Central Station. The campus also features an enormous slide and treehouse for meetings.

Epic has even been lauded for its imaginative campus. In October 2016, the American Institute of Architects gave Epic an honorable mention in its annual TAP/CCA Innovation Awards. The Epic Deep Space Auditorium — which can seat up to 11,400 and was designed by Minneapolis-based Cuningham Group — received an honorable mention in the stellar design category.

5. Epic's campus is not only unique in its design — it's also unique in its sustainability efforts. To generate energy, Epic installed six wind turbines and 18 acres of solar panels. Its campus includes almost 350 acres of farmland that Epic lends out to farmers. For heating and cooling its buildings, Epic utilizes its thousands of miles of underground geothermal pipes.

6. Every five years, Epic employees are eligible for four weeks of paid time off. If employees decide to spend their time off in a country they've never been to, Epic will fund the trip for the employee and one guest. Thus far, Epic employees have headed out on more than 3,000 trips to more than 100 countries, including Israel, Antarctica, Germany, Zimbabwe, Japan and the Bahamas.

7. Approximately 190 million patients across the globe currently have a record in Epic's EHR system. Epic's software is used in a variety of clinical settings, including community hospitals, retail clinics, rehabilitation centers, academic medical centers and independent practices. Patients can access the software from their homes and their mobile devices.

8. Epic claims all of its customers currently interoperate and exchange 1.3 million patient records each day with other EHR vendors, government agencies, registries and each other.

Epic is a founding member of Carequality, an interoperability framework that's a collaborative of public and private organizations. However, Epic has refrained from joining certain market place collaborations that claim to be dedicated to interoperability, such as the CommonWell Health Alliance.

9. Epic clients appear less satisfied with and more "trapped" in their vendor relationships, according to the 2016 Black Book Inpatient EHR Surveys. The surveys gathered responses from EHR vendors between the second quarter of 2015 through the first quarter of 2016. Epic was one of the vendors in the "trapped" quadrant, which Black Book classified as customers with the intent to continue business with the vendor but dissatisfaction with some important aspect of the relationship.

The overall loyalty percentage for Epic customers dropped from 89 percent in 2015 to 80 percent in 2016. In addition, 98 percent of Epic clients reported they were renewing their current contracts yet only 72 percent said they would advocate for peers to also purchase the product.

10. At Epic's 2016 Users Group Meeting, Ms. Faulkner addressed two new initiatives the company has launched.

First, Epic partnered with AmericanUniversity of Beirut in Lebanon to help refugees with their healthcare. Through their collaboration, Epic and AUB are planning a system in which patients in Lebanon would receive their basic health information on a thumb drive and be able to share that information with patients and organizations in other countries.

In addition, Ms. Faulkner said Epic is launching an program to support federally qualified health centers. Epic will offer free licenses and maintenance to healthcare systems that supply tertiary, specialty and inpatient care to local FQHCs. For FQHCs that can't afford or are too busy to install Epic, Epic will be available to help with the installs. For health systems that have already extended Epic to an FQHC, Ms. Faulkner said Epic will work with them to potentially reduce the cost of software maintenance.

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