Underwhelming Epic Patient Engagement Features from #UGM2018

Posted on August 30, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

John Moore has been live-tweeting the Epic User Group meeting happening this week in Wisconsin. John has shared a lot of interesting perspectives, but I was quite intrigued by this picture he shared of the “Really Cool Software In the Works.” Presumably, these are the big new patient experiences features that will be coming to an Epic EHR software near you.

*Yes, that is Judy at the bottom of the big screen presenting these changes and yes she is dressed up like a park ranger. This year’s Epic User Group theme was The Great Outdoors.

It’s nice to see Epic focusing efforts on the patient experience, but am I the only one that was totally underwhelmed by this graphic?

Let’s start with MyChart Bedside on smartphones. You can see a preview of this here. It’s interesting that Epic chose to create a product like this rather than partnering with companies like Oneview or TVR Communications who already have similar products that would work even better with a nice Epic integration. This is why Epic should embrace an open ecosystem for partners.

The announcements around “Get Rid of Clipboards” and “Skip the Waiting Room” are underwhelming as well. I’ve known companies that have had this solution for a decade or so. Epic is just getting them now?

I have a hard time judging the “Catch a Ride” and “Patient-Entered Social Determinants” features. I’m still not convinced how an Epic connection to Lyft and Uber is going to help patients. How many hospitals will really adopt this and will hospitals really start paying for patients rides with this? If they will, why didn’t hospitals just buy cab rides for patients in the past? Will an integration with Epic change that?

As far as patient-entered SDoH (Social Determinants of Health for those following along at home), are patients really going to do this? Once they do, what will the doctor do with this information? Nothing? On the less pessimistic side, as a fact-finding approach, this could be interesting. Assuming patients are willing to share this information (which may be possible in this world of over sharing) this could be a way to discover what SDoH are most prevalent in an area so that hospitals can then find ways to alleviate these challenges.

Finally, the “Talk to MyChart” feature. We’ve long heard that voice was coming to EHR software. Yes, I’m talking beyond the voice recognition that every EHR software has had forever. First, let me share that I’m a huge proponent of voice. It’s amazing the way Alexa has changed my and my family’s lives. I could be wrong, but the feature mentioned above feels like they’ve just voice enabled MyChart. Is it really that much easier to use voice in MyChart? Even if I enjoy the “pleasant voice”? Color me skeptical that this will really change any behavior. If Epic wanted a big voice empowered announcement it should have been being able to access MyChart through Alexa or Google Home (I’m pretty sure Epic would blame HIPAA on this one). That would be a really cool software.

Of course, here I’m just analyzing one slide in Judy’s presentation. I think John Moore commented that the analytics looked promising, but then he hedged the comment by saying that it was better than their competitors.

What can I say? Epic has made billions. I guess I just expect more from them.