Epic vs. Cerner: 9 key comparisons

When one thinks of EHRs, the discussion often starts with Epic or Cerner.

Hospitals often love or hate Epic or Cerner and they often defend the choice the system made or complain that their system made the wrong decision. Although the two healthcare IT vendors provide similar services, the two companies function very differently. They are both based in the Midwest and each serve approximately 30 percent of the hospitals across the nation with more than 1,000 patient beds. Epic mostly serves large hospitals, while Cerner also owns a comfortable percentage of the market of hospitals with between 100 and 250 beds, according to a survey of 950 hospital executives by research firm peer60.

Here are nine key comparisons between two of healthcare IT's biggest players.

1. Annual revenue
∙ Epic: $1.8 billion (2013)
∙ Cerner: $3.4 billion (2014)

2. Market share for EHRs for physician practice use
∙ Epic: 11.6 percent
∙ Cerner: 3.5 percent

3. CEOs
∙ Epic: Judy Faulkner is the company's founder and CEO. She lives in Madison, Wis., and founded the company with a self-built software in the late 1970s. She is listed as No. 236 on Forbes' 2015 Billionaires list with an estimated net worth of $2.9 billion. She is a self-made CEO and one of the few women on Forbes' list. She is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison mathematics program.
∙ Cerner: Neal L. Patterson is one of three co-founders of Cerner — a company that began with a single lab information system in 1979. He worked directly with the company to create a full suite of healthcare applications by the mid-1980s and took the company public in 1986. A native of Manchester, Okla., he is a graduate of Oklahoma State University's finance and business administration programs.

4. Number of U.S. employees
∙ Epic: 6,300
∙ Cerner: 14,200

5. Key markets other than EHR
∙ Epic: Practice management software, apps, patient accounting and management, billing software, patient engagement software, freestanding PHR, shared medical record for referred community providers
∙ Cerner: Technology resale, subscriptions and transactions, professional services, managed services and support and maintenance

6. Headquarters
∙ Epic: The company's sprawling home base is located in Verona, Wis., a little outside the state capital of Madison.
∙ Cerner: The company is based in Kansas City, Mo., one of the 50 largest cities in the U.S.

7. Year founded
∙ Epic: 1979
∙ Cerner: 1979

8. Original business
∙ Epic: Database management system for clinical care
∙ Cerner: Lab information systems

9. Company behavior
∙ Epic: A fairly reticent company, Epic has rarely sought the spotlight. Ms. Faulkner, its CEO, has rarely granted interviews until this year. Its website conspicuously lacks a media contact page because the company rarely converses with the public.
∙ Cerner: The company employs a large media communication team and regularly sends out notifications and media alerts.

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