Epic Systems, a major provider of electronic health record (EHR) solutions, has, for decades, kept a tight grip on their systems data. In the past, the company has fielded disputes over everything from whether individuals own their personal medical data (Epic Systems says no) to medical policy. This strategy has generated concerns among its clients, and with a crop of new alternatives entering the healthcare industry, many Epic clients are considering alternatives for managing patient health records.
In 2019, Epic had a 39% share of the more than 880,000 hospital beds in the U.S. Hakkoda’s healthcare and life science data experts predict that Epic’s approach will diminish their client base over time due to several factors, including limited interoperability, increased costs, and concerns over data ownership.
Limited Interoperability of Epic Healthcare Analytics
After the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, an “ambitious policy effort to increase the adoption of electronic health records,” EHR records adoption rose an average of 3.2% annually. By 2017, however, average adoption rates had risen to almost 8%, and experts cited successful incentive programs and policy intervention as the main driver. One of the primary issues with EHR records adoption, and specifically with Epic’s approach to controlling system data access, is the limited interoperability between its EHR platform and other health information systems.
In the past, the benefits of leveraging EHRs have led to significant advances across medical fields. Providers often faced a lack of data itself, and this challenge was handily solved through the adoption of Electronic Health Records. However, the challenges providers face today are much more likely to be driven by a lack of usable data. Physicians may have data available, but be unable to easily access and leverage crucial information.
One recent case study, led by John Halamka and published through the National Library of Medicine, evaluated early experiences with electronic healthcare data in the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). The study drew important conclusions on how to implement and manage EHR records, finding that although, historically, the greatest challenges have been related to the cost and complexity of data storage, recent concerns focus on “transforming raw data into information, knowledge, and wisdom.” Epic’s current strategies are likely to make it difficult for healthcare providers to exchange patient information with other organizations, creating barriers to seamless care coordination.
This limitation could cause hospitals and clinics to seek alternative EHR solutions that prioritize interoperability and facilitate better communication across healthcare systems.
Many healthcare experts have predicted that Epic’s approach to access control may result in additional costs for clients, as they face requirements to purchase supplementary software or pay for more expensive support services. Healthcare providers are often under financial pressure to reduce costs, and these additional expenses could drive them to seek more cost-effective alternatives.
Epic’s list of competitors has grown steadily since the pandemic, and today, there are a number of agile tech companies hoping to elbow their way into what has historically been an oligarchical EHR market owned largely by Epic Systems and Cerner. Many boast lower costs and greater interoperability as key competitive differentiators. And in a market that’s ripe for disruption, that may be enough to drive individuals to new platforms.
Epic Healthcare Analytics and Data Ownership Concerns
In recent years, Epic’s strategy of controlling access to system data has raised numerous concerns about data ownership and patient privacy. With increased restrictions on data access, clients may worry that they are losing control over their patients’ information. While privacy is paramount to healthcare companies, few go as far as Epic Systems in their attempts to control information.
Healthcare providers value the ability to maintain control over sensitive patient information. As a result, they may seek alternative EHR solutions that prioritize data ownership and offer more transparent policies on access control. The Snowflake Data Cloud platform for healthcare has been an effective tool for providers hoping to increase the interoperability of their healthcare data and provide meaningful access for diverse users while maintaining data security.
Epic Systems has thrown up roadblocks to integrations between Epic EHR data and Snowflake as well, forcing clients who hope to leverage the data cloud to navigate a complex web of considerations. Fortunately, Hakkoda’s expert healthcare data team has developed a solution that allows companies to easily migrate their Epic EHR data to Snowflake, where it can be complemented by additional data streams that provide medical professionals with a 360 degree view of their patients.
How Lack of Data Access May Stifle Innovation
Another consequence of Epic’s approach to system data access is the potential to stifle innovation in healthcare. By restricting access to data, Epic could limit the potential for clients to leverage the power of data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to improve patient outcomes and streamline operations. This could encourage healthcare providers to explore alternative EHR solutions that support innovation and enable them to harness the full potential of their data.
At Hakkoda, we’ve developed an innovative approach to help clients unlock the potential of EHR data on Snowflake, a popular cloud data platform, without violating Epic’s intellectual property rights. By leveraging its proprietary algorithms and data transformation techniques, Hakkoda ensures that the extracted data adheres to Epic’s access control policies while still enabling healthcare providers to perform advanced analytics and gain valuable insights from their EHR data.
This approach enables healthcare organizations to optimize patient care, improve operational efficiency, and foster innovation without compromising their relationship with Epic Systems or infringing upon their intellectual property rights. By providing a secure and compliant method for data integration, Hakkoda empowers healthcare providers to fully utilize the potential of their EHR data on the Snowflake platform, offering a competitive advantage in an increasingly data-driven healthcare landscape.
Driving Innovation in Healthcare with Data
While Epic Systems has been a significant player in the EHR market, its recent approach to control access to system data is likely to drive clients to seek alternatives. Limited interoperability, increased costs, data ownership concerns, and stifled innovation are significant factors that may cause healthcare providers to look for alternative EHR solutions that better align with their needs and values. Expert opinions and recent findings support these claims, suggesting that Epic’s approach may lead to a decline in market share as clients pursue more favorable alternatives.
To learn more about how your organization can take advantage of Epic, Snowflake, and data and analytics innovations in healthcare, get in touch with a Hakkoda data architect.