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HIT Squad drops in on Epic Systems Corp. booth at HIMSS 2016

The HIT Squad's unannounced visit to the Epic Systems Corp. booth at HIMSS 2016 produced a quotation, but also a polite evasion, as the HIT Squad roamed the exhibition floor.

Epic Systems Corp. is well known for its aversion to media and marketing.

But as the health IT marketplace that Epic Systems Corp. has long dominated has become more competitive and federal regulators have watched big vendors more closely, the company, based in Verona, Wis., has become if not more open, then perhaps a bit more friendly.

That friendly, but somewhat evasive, quality was on display on the ground at HIMSS 2016 earlier this month, when the SearchHealthIT HIT Squad made a surprise visit to the Epic Systems Corp. booth as part of a podcast recorded on the show floor.

As SearchHealthIT news writer Kristen Lee notes in this new, post-HIMSS podcast, one of the denizens of the ornate booth did offer up a comment on the booth's theme, calling it "eclectic."

On the other hand, after that encounter, several other Epic employees swooped down on Lee and fellow HIT Squad member Shaun Sutner, a SearchHealthIT news and features writer, to enquire about their purpose in the booth.

Somehow, a media person could not be found, and the SearchHealthIT reporters were, while not quite overtly, ushered away from the booth. And it is still unknown whether Epic has a functioning PR staff at all.

In another entertaining episode, the two reporters were offered Mimosas at 9:30 a.m. to celebrate the merger of MedAssets, a revenue cycle management vendor, and Precyse, a health information management company -- the merged firm is now called MedAssets-Precyse. They declined, not that they had free hands with which to sip the alcoholic beverage.

On a more serious note, Lee recalls a productive interview she had with the CIO and vice president of global services for a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center children's hospital about the health system's successful use of telemedicine, including one program in Colombia.

As for Sutner, he says one of his high points was a video interview he recorded with Epic nemesis athenahealth, Inc. CEO and co-founder Jonathan Bush, just after Bush appeared with his friend and business partner John Halamka, M.D., CIO of Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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