Do Epic Customers Have EMR Stockholm Syndrome?

Posted on December 12, 2012 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

John’s Note: I guess Anne didn’t see my post about the EMR Stockholm Syndrome. I think she adds to the discussion with this post though.

According to a recent piece appearing  in,  by next year an astonishing 40 percent the U.S. population will have their medical data stored in an Epic system. Heaven only knows how many billions of dollars of IT capital outlay that represents. What we can safely guess is that not a single customer making up that list failed to make painful sacrifices to bring Epic on board.

Having spent so much and worked so hard to get Epic up and running, you’d expect to hear at least some complaints from hospital C-suites about the ordeal of it all.  And despite its popularity, you’d expect far more hospitals to blanch at the, uh, epic price tag on an Epic install and say “no  thanks.” But instead, you see hospital leader after hospital leader speaking glowingly about Epic and choosing it over competitors time and time again.

As author Paul Levy notes  (himself the former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center), Epic isn’t just expensive. It’s also something of a pain to work with:

*  Epic has  made a policy of not being interoperable with other EMRs, scuttling HIE plans that have become increasingly important to hospital business plans

* Epic decides when system upgrades are needed and changes to the EMR are needed

What Paul doesn’t mention, but is worth considering as well, is that Epic only gets installed if you work with teams of its relatively green staff members, hotshot types in their twenties who may be very smart are definitely on the arrogant side if reports I’ve heard are true.

So, if hospitals are still singing Epic’s praises after all of this stress and expense and letting a vendor dictate important aspects of its development roadmap, is the industry suffering from Stockholm Syndrome (a feeling of bonding with people who have captured you)? As Levy sees it, the answer seems to be yes.  What do you think?