- Epic EHR products may be in use at the majority of top-ranked hospitals and health systems in the United States, but many smaller organizations balk at the hefty investment and steep price tag involved in adopting the company’s products.
In an effort to encourage more providers to join the Epic ecosystem, founder and CEO Judy Faulkner used the 2017 HIMSS Conference and Exhibition as an opportunity to announce some new product options that will make the onboarding process more manageable for budget-conscious providers.
Two new packages will join the traditional Epic offering. The additions will allow providers to pick an electronic health record product with the size and scope best matched to their needs.
Faulkner referred to the choices within the product line as “all-terrain,” for the full Epic experience, a “utility” package for providers will mid-range needs, and “Sonnet,” a stripped down version for entry-level users.
“Pick what fits, with three Epic models to fit your organization’s complexity, size, and budget,” proclaimed a poster at the company’s sprawling exhibit booth, showing three smiling bears in reference to the Goldilocks fairytale.
The two lower tier products will include options for expansion, Faulkner told EHRintelligence.com, giving organizations an easier, more flexible onramp.
A more measured adoption cycle may be very attractive to providers who wish to adopt Epic while avoiding some of the very public go-live snafus that have afflicted a number of large providers in recent years.
While Faulkner is always quick to stress that project management deficiencies and poor organizational planning are often primarily to blame when providers struggle through a rocky implementation, potential customers wary of the financial and political fall-out of a difficult adoption process may be able to benefit from starting small and adding capabilities as they become necessary.
Epic has been working to prepare organizations for this type of incremental improvement for some time, she added.
“We’ve been focusing a lot over the past few years on helping our customers understand the features they’ve installed and how to use them better,” Faulkner explained. “We've gone through our various capabilities and functionalities and labeled them by which area they belong to, which helps our customers see how they're doing with each type of task.”
Providers have appreciated the extra help, she said, and embraced the idea of continuous improvement. “Many of our customers look to see what new features they can put in to help them improve their performance. I think that's quite important.”
“We've heard one of our customers say that they went from having only a few features to putting a whole lot more in, and their physician satisfaction scores went from the thirties to the seventies. That's a good correlation there.”
The addition of new health IT options will support the company’s efforts to connect the entire healthcare system under an interoperability umbrella supported by Epic capabilities.
Even providers who do not use an Epic EHR can gain visibility into what is happening to their patients at Epic facilities by signing up for a web portal called EpicCare Link.
The viewer, which requires little more than a user account, allows participants to exchange certain patient data, receive alerts, schedule appointments, and place orders, improving collaboration and information sharing across organizations with disparate health IT infrastructure.
“They can follow the progress of their patients and send a collection of data over, and they can get alerts back about what's going on,” Faulkner said. “They will have interoperability, and it will be possible to blanket 100 percent of the country that way.”
Faulkner did not go into great detail about what Sonnet and the middle-grade Epic offering will and will not include, but the company believes that their diversification strategy is likely to bring more customers into the vendor's expansive – and top-performing – fold.
Seventy-six percent of HIMSS EMRAM Stage 7 hospitals and 95 percent of Stage 7 ambulatory providers use EpicCare, she pointed out, as well as 70 percent of HIMSS Davies Award winners since 2010.
Epic users also enjoy stronger bond ratings and more robust revenue cycles, the company asserts, adding to providers’ incentives to investigate the lower-cost options when they become available in the near future.