Data sharing with Epic tough task

New KLAS report explores methods used
By Bernie Monegain
10:56 AM

Epic to non-Epic clinical data sharing can be done, but it is not without challenges, according to a new report from research firm KLAS. The report examines what health organizations not using an Epic system have to do in order to share data with health systems that employ an Epic EHR.

Providers using non-Epic clinical systems say that while it isn't easy, they are able to share data with Epic.

KLAS takes a look at the methods being used to accomplish data exchange non-Epic to Epic data sharing in the report "Epic HIE 2014: Everywhere, Elsewhere, or Nowhere Else?"

"Epic is seen by many competitors and providers as not playing well with others," said report author Mark Allphin, in a news release. "Yet the providers we interviewed told us a more complex story. Data is being shared, but the effort required to get there can be very different depending on whether you are on the Epic side of the exchange or with some other vendor."

As part of this study, KLAS interviewed 28 providers about their experiences with sharing data between Epic and non-Epic systems. Some of the areas looked at include the ease of interoperability, the stresses associated with sharing clinical data and the methods currently being used to share the data.

Healthcare IT News recently reported on how one hospital with an Epic system was able to share data with the physician group using a Greenway EHR system.

The Epic EHR at Lancaster General Health's Women & Babies Hospital in Lancaster, Pa., now interoperates with the Greenway EHR at ob/gyn practice May-Grant Associates, making it possible for both to exchange continuity of care documents and securely share patient data.

Greenway is a member of the CommonWell Health Alliance, the interoperability vendor group announced at HIMSS13.

[See also: Six HIT heavy-hitters announce interoperability organization.]

Edmund Billings, MD, chief medical officer for Medsphere Systems, the developer of the OpenVista electronic health record, is a longtime proponent of interoperability.

"Anyone who understands the importance of continuity of care knows that health information exchange is essential," he wrote in a Feb. 14, 2013 blog. "How are we supposed to cut waste and duplication from the healthcare system and truly focus on patient welfare if doctor B has no idea what tests doctor A conducted, or what the results were?"

[See also: Interoperability key to boosting care.]

As Billings see it, the problem is with proprietary business models.

"In the proprietary world, interfacing with third-party products is a revenue generation strategy and technical challenge; the latter, though unnecessary, justifies the former. When we go looking for the reasons that healthcare is a laggard compared with other industries, this single-source model – the obstacle to much-needed competition and innovation – is a primary culprit."