Wednesday, May 01, 2013

What, me boisterous?

@BGlennWrites (Brandon Glenn), writing at Medical Economics, names me as "perhaps Epic's most boisterous critic" because of two columns I have written about the firm's taxpayer-supported rise to dominance in the EHR field.  I don't think so, at least compared to people I have talked to in the industry, but if I did deserve that sobriquet before Brandon's article, he now deserves the honor.

The points he makes about why Epic's dominance could stifle EHR and health care IT innovation are cogent.  Here are some excerpts:

If Epic (already based on an antiquated technology – MUMPS) decides to maintain an essentially closed system, and to drive all innovation internally, this could prove stultifying, limiting the development of novel ideas, and forcing the many high-profile adopters of Epic to accept stagnation or pay the staggering costs of switching," wrote physician-scientist David Shaywitz in Forbes.

In other words, the "closed" nature of Epic's systems - coupled with its dominant market position - could mean that Epic ends up setting the defacto standards for EHR systems, effectively stifling innovations that its competitors might develop in the EHR market. That, in turn, could lead to Epic's big hospital customers - and those hospitals' patients - being frozen out from advances in EHR technology.

Health IT analyst John Moore of Chilmark Research predicts that's exactly what'll happen. Writing at The Health Care Blog, Moore said Epic is operating on a model that "will ultimately hinder healthcare organizations’ ability to rapidly innovate and respond to market changes. Epic simply will not be able to move fast enough and their customers will struggle as a result."

I don't claim to have the IT expertise of these people. I have witnessed the normal trend of a dominant player in a marketplace to squelch innovation, regardless of the sector.  Brandon's article now has me even more worried.

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