Epic's new edge: an app store

Could the move allay criticism that the Epic system is too closed?
By Bernie Monegain
10:18 AM
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Illustration of computer with app icons

EHR giant Epic will soon open its own app store, the Wisconsin State Journal reports today.

"We think Epic is big now? This will cement their long-term legacy," Mark Bakken, a consultant, tells the newspaper. "It’s exactly the right thing to do."

Bakken is co-founder and former chief executive of Nordic Consulting, the largest consultant firm working with Epic customers. He said the Epic App Exchange would launch in a few weeks and work in a way similar to Apple's app store. He told the Journal it could answer some of the criticism about Epic being too closed a system.

Indeed, the Verona, Wis.-based behemoth has fielded much criticism over what many in the industry perceive as its inability or unwillingness to play well with others. This past summer, Epic President Carl Dvorak told the ONC's Health IT Committee that Epic was much more willing to share data than its critics implied.

Until then, Epic, whose founder and CEO Judy Faulkner is known for shunning publicity of any kind, had remained silent in the face of criticism.

[See also: Epic defends interoperability bona fides.]

Interoperability is likely to be a major factor in the Department of Defense pick of its next EHR system. Epic and IBM are among four teams competing for the government contract that would tally to as much as $11 billion over five years. The decision is due next June.

One of the teams vying for the work includes EHR company Medsphere whose OpenVista EHR is a commercial version developed using the VA's open system.

A Feb. 12 report from the Center for New American Security and authored by three Washington insiders, urges DoD to choose an open system, one that is "extensible, flexible and easy to safely modify and upgrade as technology improves and interoperability demands evolve."

[See also: Choose an open EHR, DoD is urged.]

"DOD is about to procure another major electronic (health records) system that may not be able to stay current with – or even lead – the state-of-the-art, or work well with parallel systems in the public or private sector, We are concerned that a process that chooses a single commercial 'winner,' closed and proprietary, will inevitably lead to vendor lock and health data isolation," the authors retired Army Gen. H. Hugh Shelton, Stephen L. Ondra and Peter L. Levin, wrote in their report.

Read the Wisconsin State Journal article about the app store here.