Epic plans event for ‘non-users’ on info exchange capabilities

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Epic Systems is inviting provider organizations that don't use its information systems to its headquarters to learn how to exchange information with Epic users.

The electronic health record vendor says the September 26 event in Verona, Wis., will cover all the options for exchanging patient data—not just with Epic users, but also with other providers in an organization's community. On the agenda are using Carequality, Care Everywhere, HIE and Direct messaging services, and the capabilities and limitations of each option.

Also on the agenda are discussions about Epic’s patient-directed applications, including MyChart, Share Everywhere, Lucy personal health record and Blue Button, which can give providers controlled access to Epic charts and data, possibly without the need for additional infrastructure. Other panels will cover interoperability success stories involving Epic and records systems from other vendors, and using data exchange to support population health, accountable care and shared savings.

Todd Richardson, senior vice president and chief information officer at Aspirus, an eight-hospital delivery system in Wisconsin and Michigan and a user of Epic and Meditech EHRs, says Epic shares data more extensively than it’s often given credit for. “Epic’s not the only EHR; we all have to interoperate,” he says.

The bigger challenge, Richardson believes, is coming during the next five years as mobile apps mature and patients start to own their information and allow others to access it. Overall, Richardson sees Epic’s new initiative as a competitive advantage. “For them to bring in other people and cast the olive branch is significant. You can’t sit in a silo even if you are a major player without ramifications.”

Epic has been moving toward being more inclusive and sharing data outside its orbit, particularly with Meditech and Cerner, as well as working to connect with health information exchanges, notes Michael Mytych, principal at Health Information Consulting, which specializes in hospital vendor selection services.

The company also is collecting and normalizing data from other sources so physicians know when data comes from the outside, and a button on the EHR helps doctors quickly find patient records at other Epic hospitals, Mytych says, adding that it’s also improved workflows for physicians to help them quickly find documents.

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Still, Epic continues to have strict rules to ensure data moving through its systems is properly formatted and vetted by the Carequality trusted interoperability framework of the Sequoia Project, he contends. Where Epic may lack a bit is in how it communicates with stakeholders; it needs better layman’s descriptions of its services, Mytych believes. “Even your own customers don’t know this stuff; they don’t know the capabilities that Epic has.” That said, the company is ready to work with other vendors but many aren’t yet ready to work with Epic, Mytych adds.

More information on the September 26 Epic meeting, including registration and the schedule, is available here.

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