How Easy is Data Exchange with Epic?

A new report from vendor research firm KLAS Enterprises looks at the ability of providers using Epic electronic health records to share clinical data with non-Epic users.

Assessing the Landscape Assessing the Landscape

The sample size for the report is small. KLAS interviewed 28 Epic and non-Epic users. Most providers share data through an intermediary such as a regional or state health information exchange, or a health informaton service provider vendor, while the remainder achieve interoperability directly between EHRs. But while Epic has a reputation as a closed system, the reality is that data exchange is quite possible, according to the report. The industry, however, still has a long way to go to reach plug-and-play status, making HIEs a popular way to exchange with Epic.

Piece of Cake? Piece of Cake?

There are challenges to integrating with Epic, but primarily for other EHR vendors, health information exchanges, and health information service providers, concludes Mark Allphin, clinical research director at KLAS and author of the report. Most of the heavy lifting is done by the non-Epic vendors. “For Epic end users, sharing with other health systems is a stress-free experience,” according to the report. “Epic handles the configuration and then the already-familiar Care Everywhere tool suddenly has access to outside data.”

My Way or the Highway My Way or the Highway

Epic is rigid in how it integrates with others. “HIE organizations and non-Epic providers say Epic is capable but inflexible and that other vendors must meet Epic where Epic stands,” the report states. In the end, Epic is willing to share, Allphin says. They are really good at understanding how their product works and implements the product in a high manner. But Epic dictates how they will integrate with others, be it EHR vendors or HIE/HISP vendors, “because they know it will work,” he adds. That’s the approach they use for their EHR customers and the same approach they insist upon when integrating with others.

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Pros and Cons Pros and Cons

Epic is firm in their approach, which can be viewed as negative or positive. It can be considered positive because the end result works, Allphin says. Some may see this as a negative in that the company might seem inflexible and require the other vendors to do the heavy lifting. On a 1-5 scale, Epic users rate ease of interoperability (access, completeness of data, ease of configuration/setup & affordability) in the mid-4s, and non-Epic providers rate around 4, making the transition fairly easy for both. It is the HIE organizations who rank the task lower, mostly in the 3s.

Bumpy Ride Bumpy Ride

Despite decent rankings by non-Epic providers, they still can have a bumpy ride, according to the report. “When a vendor does not already support the standards Epic uses, providers often face extensive development and expensive interfaces. Once interoperability is in place, usability varies for non-Epic users: some enjoy easy access to Epic data inside their own EHRs, but others must use HIE portals outside their clinical workflow.”

Playing Well Together Playing Well Together

Most data exchange with Epic is delivered in a CCD format, but vendors interpret format standards differently. Among EHR vendors that KLAS found most commonly integrating with Epic were Cerner, Allscripts, Greenway and Meditech.

More Information More Information

The report, “Epic HIE 2014,” is available here.. The cost is $980 for providers and $14,980 for others.

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A new report from vendor research firm KLAS Enterprises looks at the ability of providers using Epic electronic health records to share clinical data with non-Epic users.

 

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