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Why Might Intermountain Have Chosen Cerner Over Epic?

An anonymous person on HIStalk gave some really interesting insights into Intermountain’s decision to go with Cerner instead of Epic.

Re: Intermountain. The short-term choice (three or so years) would have been Epic, but we went with Cerner because of Epic’s dated technology, Cerner’s openness, and the feeling that we would be more of a partner than a customer with Cerner. The partnership is more than words. We’re working closely with Cerner and their horde of sharp, dedicated people on the implementation. We have some pieces they don’t and those are being built into the Cerner system, while some of our own development efforts have been redirected since Cerner already has that functionality. The first rollout is scheduled for December and I think it will go well due to the way the teams are working together. Unverified.

This is the best analysis of Intermountain’s decision to go with Cerner that I’ve seen. As in every billion dollar procurement decision, it’s always got other nuances and pieces that go into the decision making process. However, the above analysis gives us a good place to start.

Let’s look at the main points that are made:

1. Is Epic technology more dated than Cerner?

2. Is Cerner more open than Epic?

3. Will Cerner be more of a partner than Epic would have been?

I’d love to see Judy’s (Epic CEO’s) comments on all of these. I’m sure she’d have a lot to say about each of them. For example, you may remember that Judy described Epic as the most open system she knows. Ask someone who wants to get Epic certified if they’re open. Ask a health IT vendor that wants to work together if Epic is open. Ask even some of their smaller customers who want to do things with Epic if Epic is open. They’d all likely disagree that Epic is the most open system.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts on each of these three points. I think it will make for a really lively discussion that will help us get closer to understanding the reality of these assertions.

However, reality aside, I can tell you that the public image of Epic vs Cerner certainly confirms all three of these points. Whether Intermountain indeed used these points as part of their decision process or not, I don’t know. What I do know is that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they did think this way since there are many in the market that believe and share all of the above three impressions.

July 14, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Has Epic Grown Too Big, Too Fast?

We’ve written a lot of posts over the years about some of the challenges that Epic has faced as it’s grown its EHR business. In fact, Anne Zieger’s post yesterday about a Hospital Credit Rating Lowered due to their Epic Project is one example. However, I was really struck by this reader submitted article on HIStalk.

The article is written by a “Long-Time Epic Customer”. You don’t get the sense that this customer is bitter or has any real dog in the fight. In fact, if anything this customer seems to have a love for Epic and they want Epic to win the EHR battle. However, they’re concerned by the changes that they’ve seen in Epic as its grown. His a paragraph from the article:

We installed Epic years ago, but have seen a vast difference between our prior experience and a recent rollout of newer products. The method where time was taken to help us build our own system has been replaced by a rushed, prefab Model system installed by staff where even the advisers and escalation points at Epic have little knowledge of their applications. Epic has always had newer people, but it was much more common to have advisers during the install who did have experience to watch for pitfalls.

The writer then goes on to describe how Epic seems to be investing in the wrong things. “We’re getting answers, solutions, fixes, and reports slower than ever.”

I think the reason many of things really struck a chord with me is that they’re matching up with many of the things I’ve seen and heard. Based on some real anecdotal things I’ve heard I won’t be surprised if Judy decides to get out of the day to day work at Epic sometime soon. We’ll see how it plays out, but an Epic without Judy at the helm will be quite different.

November 8, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Judy Faulkner Interoperability Chart

Farzad Mostashari shared the following tweet which includes a picture of the growth in standards-based exchange per Judy Faulkner.

Here’s a blown up version of the chart (click on the image for an even larger version):
Epic Data Sharing Chart

As Farzad notes in the tweet, the patient records exchanged per month is now up to 1.25 million. It’s also worth noting that the red bar in the chart is exchange of records from Epic to Epic. The Green bar in the charts is from Epic to Non-Epic. I hope that green bar continues to grow since as the chart displays, that’s a definite shift in strategy for Epic. Let’s hope this shift continues until the data in healthcare is available where it’s needed when it’s needed.

September 18, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Judy Calls Epic “Most Open System I Know”

After Zina Moukheiber from Forbes was declined an interview with Judy Faulkner, CEO of Epic, last year Judy decided to talk to Zina about Epic in this article “An Interview With The Most Powerful Woman In Health Care.” Zina does a nice job on the interview and raises some of the questions many people have about Epic. It’s worth a read if you like to follow the hospital EHR world.

Many people are likely going to latch on to Zina calling Judy Faulkner the “most powerful woman in health care.” I don’t think that’s really up for discussion. Judy is the most powerful woman in healthcare and so I’m really glad that Judy is starting to join the discussion about Epic and healthcare. She has an important voice in the discussion and we need her participation. Although, I’m sure she’ll hate being called a billionaire in the article. The reality is we don’t know how much Judy’s really worth until we know how much Epic is worth and I’m not sure Epic plans to go public anytime soon.

Semantics aside, the most important part of the interview was the discussion of Epic being a closed system to which Judy frankly replied, “We are the most open system I know because we’re built as a database management system, and database management systems need to allow their users to mold it to what they need.” I think she really believes that Epic is an open system and quite frankly there aren’t that many in healthcare she can look to that are more open. Sure, a number of EHR vendors have worked to be more open, but even they aren’t as open as many other non health IT software systems. Maybe Judy hasn’t looked at the APIs outside of healthcare.

The real disconnect I had when reading Judy’s thoughts on being open is her lack of understanding of how a truly open API works. In a well implemented API, you can allow any and all programmers to be able to build applications on top of your software without those programmers needing to read your code and study your internal software. I’m not saying you don’t want and need to have an application and verification process for those people who want to tap into your API. This can be part of the process, but a well implemented and documented API can be open to everyone interested in building on top of your software. The value Epic would receive from so many companies iterating and extending the core Epic functionality would be amazing.

The other facet of Epic openness discussed in the article was around interoperability. Judy offered these comments on Epic’s ability to share patient records:

As of March 2013, our customers exchanged 760,000 patient records per month; about one-third were with non-Epic systems. Based on the historical trajectory, we expect that we’re closer to exchanging approximately one million records per month. We are currently exchanging data with Allscripts, Cerner, Department of Defense, Veteran Affairs Administration, Social Security Administration, eHealth Exchange (formerly Nationwide Health Information Network), Greenway, MEDITECH, NextGen and others. We expect to be exchanging data soon with eClinicalWorks, General Electric, Surescripts, and others.

This sounds good on face, but lets consider how many records Epic is sharing. Let’s use the round number of 1 million patient records shared per month. The article says that Epic has about half of the US population on Epic, or about 150 million patients. That means that about 0.67% of Epic’s patient records are being shared.

I’m happy to applaud Epic for sharing 1 million records a month with so many different vendors. My only complaint is that they could do so much more. For example, if you can share records between Epic and Cerner now, does that work for all Epic hospitals or do you have to do the new integration with every hospital that says they want to share records with Cerner? If it was a turn key way to integrate with Cerner, I’m quite sure that instead of 1% of Epic’s patient records being shared we’d see tens of millions of patient records flowing where they needed to go.

Many might remember my surprise breakfast with Judy Faulkner at the CHIME Forum. From my personal experience, Judy is not the black widow that I’ve heard many portray her to be. In fact, I found her incredibly thoughtful, caring, and really interested in quality patient care. That’s why I hope Judy will see that she’s sitting on an opportunity to do so much more than she’s doing now. Although, it will take a shift in her understanding of what it means to be an open EHR. Right now it seems her mostly unfounded fears won’t let her see the possibilities.

May 16, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

My Surprise Breakfast with Epic CEO Judy Faulkner

One of the highlights of my experience at CHIME 2012 was a surprise breakfast that happened on the final day of CHIME. I actually was a touch late to breakfast after skipping out of a mostly empty room talking about HIPAA (imagine that on the last day of a conference). I got my breakfast and sat down at a table of what turned out to be mostly hospital CIOs.

Meals at CHIME turned out to be a great time to meet, connect and learn from the hospital CIOs that attended. A lively conversation was happening when a lady sat down next to me. I looked up and to my surprise the lady sitting next to me was none other than Judy Faulkner, CEO of Epic. I’m sure she had no idea who I was and I later realized that she likely sat next to me because on the other side of her was a hospital CIO she wanted to apologize to for something that had happened months before.

As an EHR blogger, I admit that I was probably a bit star struck sitting next to Judy. This was probably accentuated by the stigma (right or wrong) that Epic doesn’t like the media very much. So, I decided that rather than probe into Judy like a normal media person (I prefer to be a thought leader as much as I am a journalist anyway), I decided to just sit back and mostly listen.

It made for a really interesting experience since one of the first things Judy talked about was apologizing to this hospital CIO. I’m sure the cynics out there would say that she was probably apologizing because she wanted to further Epic’s business with that CIO. However, that wasn’t the impression I got from Judy. Instead, I got the impression that she had a real feeling of guilt that something she had done had caused other people some amount of trouble. In fact, how troubled she was by something most of us wouldn’t think twice about I think says something about Judy. I think some like to characterize her as a tough, driven, hard-nosed, business woman. Maybe she is in the boardroom, but my experience at breakfast was of her as a very thoughtful caring person.

When I told some of my colleagues about my experience with Judy, she told me I’d been seduced. Maybe she’s right. From my experience I saw a very kind, compassionate Judy.

I’ll wait to share all of the things I learned from my time with Judy for another time, but I did also have an interesting conversation with Judy about Twitter and social media. I think the conversation began because I playfully suggested that she should post whatever we were talking about to Twitter. I say playfully, because I was quite sure I’d never seen Judy on Twitter or any other social media and so I was interested to see her response. She responded something like, “I hope I live my whole life and never go on Twitter.”

While I was partially taken back by the sharpness of her response (Although, thinking back I shouldn’t have been surprised), I replied that “Twitter’s not about ‘what I ate today’ and that there was real value to engaging on Twitter.” To Judy’s credit, she then asked why I thought she should be on Twitter.

My response in the moment was pretty terrible. I told her about Twitter’s ability to “connect people.” While this is valuable to many people, the last thing that Judy wants in her position is more random people connecting with her. After giving such a lackluster response, I decided a broader answer I could have given would be, “Social media is about people and people are the most valuable asset in the world. Social media leverages people in amazingly powerful ways.”

That answer is still not perfect without examples and application, but at least the answer applies more broadly in a way that she could benefit from social media. After this experience, I asked myself if I was doing a keynote on healthcare social media, what would I say?

I’ve already come up with 21 ways to benefit from social media. I’ve also started creating a list of very specific examples of social media in healthcare. If you have more examples, I’d love to hear them in the comments. It only seems fitting that I’d use social media to help me put together this resource, right?

I’m still debating the best way to spread what I gather about healthcare social media, but I think it needs to happen. I still run into far too many people that think that social media is just about what you ate for lunch or your drunken pictures with friends. More people need to be informed about the amazing possibilities with healthcare social media. Plus, next time I happen upon breakfast with Judy Faulkner, I’ll have a much better answer for her.

October 29, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

Attending CHIME 2012 Fall CIO Forum

Today I arrived at the 2012 Fall CIO Forum for CHIME. I’ve wanted to go to this event for quite a while. My fellow blogger, Neil Versel, had often told me about how great the event was and so I wanted to see it first hand.

Tonight I heard an almost emotional Farzad Mostashari speak and then got to mingle with all of the CIO’s at the evening event. A few things I’ve already noticed that I found interesting.

First, Farzad has really refined his pitch for healthcare IT. He makes a really compelling case for what’s possible and a really common sense analysis of why we need to start using healthcare IT now. If I were to put a title on Farzad’s talk at CHIME, I’d call it, “Stop with the Excuses, We Can Do Better.”

Everything at the event is high class. You can tell that no expense was spared to make sure that the major healthcare IT contributors are treated well.

I wasn’t that surprised, but it’s unfortunate that I was by far the youngest person at the conference (at least from what I saw). One wife of a CIO I talked with asked why there weren’t more young people present. Then she said, “Don’t these hospital CIOs want to groom the next generation of leaders? Why are they holding on so tightly and not preparing for the future.” It’s a good question I wasn’t really sure how to answer.

There are a lot of really powerful people at the event. It was fun to see Judy Faulkner mingling with people. I saw John Glaser. In many ways, it’s a Who’s Who of hospital health IT.

While there are many Hospital CIOs at the event, there are also a lot of vendor representatives. Not surprising considering the amount of budget these hospital CIOs control.

I was amazed at how many people were “old friends.” You could see that many of those attending have been doing so for years and this was their annual visit with colleagues. As a first time attendee, you’d think that I might not feel very welcome, but the opposite was the case. All of the hospital CIOs I met were very friendly, kind and happy to engage.

More on the event tomorrow. If you’re in Palm Springs at the event, I’d love to talk with you. Just leave a comment below or send me a tweet.

October 17, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 blogs containing almost 6000 articles with John having written over 3000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 14 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and Google Plus.

An Epic Tale: How Queen Faulkner Controls Her Realm

Once there was a queen in a castle in Wisconsin. She had brave armies of stout young health IT soldiers at her disposal, and for a time, her armies handled all the engagements her health IT fiefdom encountered in with relative ease.

Far and wide, people heard of her Epic deeds, and all wanted to partake in the tools of her empire. But lo, it grew, Queen Faulkner’s armies no longer sufficed, and her servants trained IT mercenaries to handle the constant demands her kingdom faced.

Over time, so many were her supplicants that the Queen’s good men and women scarce could do the work they set out to do. However, the Queen was loath to train more mercenaries for, she reasoned, “at some point they could control my kingdom, and that must not be!”

So the Queen wrought a strategem — a compromise she thought might satisfy the demands outside her realm. She made herself sure that candidates for certification would need to pass nearly through the head of a needle to win the honor of engaging in Epic battles.

And thus, the Queen gave control to her IT mercenaries, but not enough to let them come together and rebel against her realm.

But in her desire for control, Queen Faulkner had left herself open to other discontents. The hospital monarchs who sought her tools and protection began to demand more soldiers and armament, and engagements began to become free-for-alls.

Yet, as per her design, the certified mercenary companies were, alas, far too small to meet the needs of full-scale engagements. And the Queen’s own troops were neck-deep in IT code and infrastructure, unable to come to the aide of their fellow Epic soldiers.

Woe to the Epic Queen. Her engagements, yea, they will continue, but will hospital monarchs continue to seek her aid?  Perhaps they need to consider that even great empires have limits…

August 3, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies.