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This content is part of the Essential Guide: EHR interoperability, regulations top patient record concerns
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Epic gets flak again on interoperability, this time in Mother Jones article

Epic Systems has been criticized for its lack of interoperability before, and now, in a recent Mother Jones article entitled “Epic Fail”, the EHR vendor is being put on the spot again.

For the writer, Patrick Caldwell, this issue is a personal one as he has dealt with a complex — and expensive — medical history since he was a child. He knows all too well the added burden the lack of access to medical records can put on a sick patient.

From Caldwell’s perspective, Epic has only helped to create a fragmented system that leaves doctors unable to share information. Patients should be assured that their records detailing drug allergies, test results, X-rays and more are available to their various doctors so that they can receive the best care possible, Caldwell writes.

A spokesperson from Epic told Mother Jones that the company has long supported “sharing patient records wherever the patient goes.” At the same time, Epic declined interview requests, Caldwell wrote.

“We’ve become a little uncharacteristically media exposed in recent months,” the spokesperson told Caldwell, “and I sense that the pendulum is headed back to a quieter spell.”

In a 2014 RAND report Epic was singled out as a roadblock to interoperability, Caldwell wrote.

“It can be challenging and costly for hospitals to interface their EHR with the clinical or billing software of other companies,” the report said. Caldwell also points out that Epic is not a member of the CommonWell Health Alliance Partnership, a nonprofit trade association devoted to setting standards for the exchange of information. Epic’s competitors, however, are part of this partnership.

He added that, in all fairness, Epic does work with healthcare organizations to link its system with competing ones, but it will cost a pretty penny and it will be labor intensive.

There are signs that the government has had enough with Epic, Caldwell wrote. The Department of Defense (DoD) choosing Cerner Corporation to take on  its EHR contract is one example. And the DoD has made it clear that interoperability is non-negotiable for the agency.

That said, Epic is firmly entrenched in healthcare. Duke University Health System reportedly spent $700 million on its Epic installation, Caldwell wrote. However, this success doesn’t mean that patients have to accept the status quo, Caldwell urged. With increased scrutiny, Epic may be pushed to open up their system a little more.

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