- Epic Systems, health software provider, hired the lobbying group Card & Associates last month to improve its image in the area of interoperability. Epic, based in Verona, Wisc., has come under fire from various groups who criticize the company for selling closed electronic medical record systems.
- The company’s image is particularly important now, just months after it announced a partnership with IBM to compete for the Healthcare Management Systems Modernization Contract through the Department of Defense. The purpose of the contract is to create interoperability among government records.
- Spokespeople for Epic spent time with Congressional leaders and provided testimony to the Health IT Policy Committee on the topic this summer. Epic president Carl Dvorak told the committee last month that the organization has provided about 20 billion data transactions a year to about 600 other vendor systems. Epic will be competing against the likes of Allscripts and Cerner Corp. for the contract.
In a hearing in July, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Md.) questioned the federal government’s subsidization of EMRs that lack interoperability, citing Epic by name. According to Healthcare IT News, Gingrey told the Energy & Commerce Committee, "And Congress has spent, as we all know, something like $24 billion over the past six years buying products to facilitate interoperability only to have the main vendor under the program, Epic, sell closed platforms."
This is a crucial time for this kind of branding. The purpose of Epic teaming up with IBM for the DoD’s modernization contract is to leverage IBM’s system integration and operations with Epic’s interoperability. If Epic winds up falling short on its end, the two organizations could stand to lose the contract, which is suspected to be worth $11 billion.