Paul Levy: Partners HealthCare, Epic relationship fringes on antitrust violations

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In early June, Boston-based Partners HealthCare began its go-live of Epic's EHR system across its facilities. But some are now questioning if the implementation violates antitrust laws by eliminating competition.

At an investment of $1.2 billion, the health system plans to continue rolling out the software across its 10-hospital, 6,000-physician network. In his blog "Not Running a Hospital," former CEO of Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center suggests the relationship Partners has with Epic and the circumstances surrounding the EHR go-live are in contention with antitrust laws.

Mr. Levy writes the relationship between the two entities is "a remarkable reinforcement of mutual self-interest."

He explains that under the agreement, Epic's EHR platform is to be installed at all the Partners-affiliated, yet independent, medical practice groups. If the medical practice groups say they want to keep their old systems, the response they get is that Epic's system isn't feasibly interoperable with the old system. Also, the medical practice groups are told that if they don't install Epic's system, they will be unable to participate in certain insurance contracting relationships, according to Mr. Levy.

Doing so eliminates room for any competition in this market, he continues. "They are complicit with each other in helping to ensure that [Partners] keeps its network strong by holding on to physician groups and that Epic expands its market power by expelling established competitors," Mr. Levy writes.

Mr. Levy ends by urging Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to investigate the relationship.

More articles on EHRs:

9 recent vendor contracts, go-lives
EHR vendors Q2 financial report: How athenahealth, Cerner, McKesson & MEDITECH fared
How does Epic feel about Cerner winning the DOD contract?

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