Could Epic End Up The Victim Of Its Own EMR Success?

Posted on August 12, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

Here’s a recap of a really useful post  laying out why Epic has, and can’t afford to let go of, total control of  the large-hospital EMR market.

Interestingly enough, the post appeared in Lab Soft News, which is published by the Pathology Education Consortium. (Let’s take a wild guess and assume that PEC isn’t too pleased by Epic’s stranglehold on hospital EMR business, which doesn’t give its pathology information systems supporters much wiggle room.) But I digress…

In essence, the post makes three key points:

*  Epic is implemented, or soon will be, in virtually every large U.S. hospital

*  Epic keeps very close control of how its system is implemented and developed in an effort to control performance

*   Given this desire for control, Epic isn’t likely to let other vendors create software to interoperate with its EMR

If the Lab Soft News author has his facts right, Epic isn’t just acting like a monopolist, it actually can’t afford to let any other vendors play in its sandbox at this point. In fact, the Wisconsin giant has basically painted itself into a corner.

As part of its winning sales pitch, Epic apparently guarantees that it will singlehandedly give a hospital all of the EMR functionality it needs. Under these circumstances, letting other vendors extend its platform would never do, as any system requiring additional integration doesn’t offer the “turnkey system” feeling Epic offers.

My instinct is that this situation will backfire on Epic.  I’ve always believed that software firms benefit from working closely with development partners — or even by simply allowing others to extend its functions.

No matter how brilliant a company’s engineers are, and I’m sure Epic’s are top-notch, it can benefit from the ideas and energy that comes from creating compatible applications. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that if an enterprise software house like Epic is too inward-looking, it will inevitably deteriorate simply due to the lack of fresh air.

But that’s just my take. What do you think?