Legacy EHRs making move to open platforms

Dive Brief:

  • Electronic health record (EHR) companies are beginning to embrace open platforms and a more connected digital experience for their customers, Healthcare IT News reports.
  • In interviews at HIMSS17, top executives from Allscripts, Cerner and Epic revealed said they are offering application program interfaces (APIs) that facilitate interoperability, patient identification and more.
  • The move will allow third parties to create software and apps that can be accessed through their platforms.

Dive Insight:

The move to platform-as-a-service EHRs is relatively new for legacy companies and could open the door to more innovative features and capabilities in areas like population health and information exchange.

Allscripts CEO Paul Black said Allscripts has thousands of developers certified to create apps for its platform, and has been conducting API data exchanges since 2013. Cerner President Zane Burke said his company is also working with third parties to realize the “full value of all the investment in healthcare.”

Meanwhile, Epic is preparing to launch two slimmed down versions of its EHR and is developing a platform called Kit to access data in its Caboodle data warehouse. Third parties will be able to write apps to use on the platform, Epic CEO Judy Faulkner said.

Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenahealth, has seen this coming for a long time. “What has … developed at Athena and in the market is the emergence of the potential for platform,” he told Healthcare Dive recently. Not only are more patients moving around among providers, increasing the ability for network effect, but there’s been a proliferation of digital apps and mobile health technologies.

In a report published last year by Health 2.0, small IT companies said they faced major challenges integrating digital solutions into large vendors’ EHRs. With the exception of Allscripts and athenahealth, none of the EHR vendors included in the survey of 100 small tech firms support integrations.

Those firms that did achieve integration rated the EHR vendors’ APIs as either “not great” or “poorly designed.” Epic, for instance, told 70% of surveyed tech firms that a client’s recommendation was needed before they would help. 

Filed Under: Health IT Hospital Administration Practice Management