Electronic Health Records

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Epic Systems Preparing to Offer EHR Cloud-Based Solutions

Epic Systems is preparing its campus to support Epic EHR cloud-based solutions and expand its customer base to include smaller providers.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

The next phase of construction at the headquarters of Epic Systems will include a data center to support EHR cloud-based solutions, according to VentureBeat.

Last week, Mark Sullivan reported that the Wisconsin-based EHR company’s decision to offer remote hosting signals the intention of Epic Systems to attract healthcare organizations and providers that historically do not fit its customer mold.

“New advances in computing power, virtualization, and high-speed connectivity have combined to make possible a hosted option that meets our customers’ high performance standards,” Epic VP Stirling Martin told VentureBeat. “While our ‘cloud’ actually lives in a state-of-the-art underground data center, it provides the same benefits — allowing a flexible future for our customers who may seek a cost-effective alternative to internal investments in infrastructure and technology.”

According to Sullivan, the new service targets medical groups and small hospitals that cannot afford the EHR implementation and maintenance costs associated with Epic’s on-premise EHR solution as evidence by the fact that large hospitals won’t have access to similar hosting services in the near term other than in the form of backup files.

Not only will Epic’s cloud plans bring the EHR company into direct competition with cloud-based EHR developers in the ambulatory space, but it should also heighten rivalry with Cerner, which has its plans to expand its presence across the care continuum.

Breakdown of Top 10 Epic EHR Implementations and Cerner EHR Implementations in Hospitals

In a series of interviews published this week, Cerner President Zane Burke provided details about the company’s plans to focus more of its resources to population health management and patient-centered care, especially in light of the acquisition of Siemens Health Services.

“We’re at over 16,000 associates at Cerner working on healthcare IT,” Burke told EHRIntelligence.com College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Fall Forum. You add the Siemens associate base to that and that means we’re going to have nearly 22,000 people working on healthcare IT. The scale at which we can bring versus anyone else in the world to healthcare IT is dramatically different, and so that’s part of what we think this is.”

While Burke did not mention the role that cloud-based EHR services would play in Cerner’s ability to scale, the organization’s physical expansion and recent arrangements with some of its customers indicates otherwise.

The Kansas City-based EHR company just broke ground on its $4.5-billion, 290-acre construction project in the southern part of the city which will double the size of its workforce. And just a few months ago, the EHR company struck a deal with Georgia Regents Medical Center to host the latter’s Cerner EHR system and data remotely.

“The environments are getting so complex now and so much data is coming from so many places that at least for a mid-sized organization like us it is harder and harder to figure out how to manage that and do so cost-effectively,” Georgia Regents CIO Charlie Enicks told EHRIntelligence.com in September. “Some of the cloud services really set you up to be successful in that environment.”

By moving into non-traditional EHR markets, Cerner EHR and Epic EHR are likely to face off in a new arena, one that already features stiff competition from cloud-savvy EHR developers in those spaces.

 

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