Judy Faulkner: Epic is not a barrier to interoperability

Amidst allegations that software giant Epic is a barrier to a national system of shared health records, Judy Faulkner, founder and CEO of the company, has spoken up to fight back, according to an interview she granted to Politico.

The company has long been singled out in government and among smaller providers as perpetuating a closed system. Smaller providers may feel pressured to join larger networks or to get expensive software such as Epic, when connecting to the health records of larger systems becomes difficult or impossible.

Recently, Epic has hired a lobbyist, its first ever. The lobbyist, Brad Card, was hired in August and has since met with various members of Congress to reconcile Epic's track record with its reputation.

However, Epic faces a continuing struggle with its reputation. Though it writes interfaces to integrate Epic and non-Epic systems, it receives a high-enough volume of third-party requests for the service that it must turn many down. In addition, it charges a per-transaction fee to access patient data, though this is not unique to Epic. Together with the reportedly high cost of the software, these business realities have created some Epic enemies as well as the perception that Epic can severely restrict HIE.

With regard to interoperability, Epic says 680,000 pieces of patient information were exchanged between Epic and non-Epic systems in September, more than twice as many as were exchanged in June. This is about 12 percent of total Epic-to-Epic transactions in September, according to the report.

Ms. Faulkner remains steadfast that Epic supports interoperability. KLAS rated Epic the top vendor for interoperability in both 2012 and 2013, and it gave Epic the highest score for health information exchange this year. She told Politico HIE was written in to the software: "The whole concept of being open and allowing users…to be able to use the exits to do whatever they want was in there from the very, very start."

"If we don't speak up, people will believe what others say about us, and an unanswered accusation becomes seen as the truth if you don't respond. We're now in a position where we have to," Faulkner said in the report.

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