Epic CEO Judy Faulkner reveals two new EHR versions are in development

The new versions will provide pathways for providers who don’t need the full version of Epic.

What a difference one year can make. In the world of Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner, where creating new technology meets with a delight for words, 2016 was a productive and rewarding year.

How so?

“We’re developing some really nifty new software,” she told Healthcare IT News on Sunday after attending the daylong CHIME-HIMSS CIO Forum at HIMSS17.

“There’s going to be three versions of Epic,” Faulkner said. “That’s what we’re working on now. There’s Epic Sonnet.” She pauses to note that an “epic” is a long poem – as in Homer’s Odyssey. As she put it, “even though we’re computer scientists, we can still be literate.”

Sonnet, she said, is the smaller poem. She describes Sonnet, which is now in development, as Epic technology with some of the features removed. It has a lower price point, and it can be just the right technology for organizations who don’t need the features of the full Epic EHR. Then, there’s yet another version, one between the full Epic EHR and the Sonnet. Both will provide a path toward upgrading to the full product.

“We’re finding that people need different things,” she said. “So, if you are a critical access hospital, you don’t need the full Epic. The two new versions of Epic in development can provide a pathway to adding all the features at a later time.

And then there’s “Caboodle” – the name of Epic’s data warehouse. “I don’t like boring words,” Faulkner said.

The trade name for Epic’s analytics suite is Cogito, from the Latin phrase “cogito ergo sum” – “I think, therefore I am.” In mid-2016, Epic renamed the data warehouse portion of the suite  “Caboodle” and Faulkner is now working on Kit – as in Kit & Caboodle. “Kit is making everything very open,” Faulkner said.

Faulkner seems to relish her work and is buoyed by it. Is there any time when it becomes a grind?

“Some parts do,” she replied. “Sometimes what becomes a grind is not the work itself, but how long it takes and how much of my life it takes and how little I have for other things.”

However, there are rewards – for example, knowing that there are so many drug-to-drug interactions – a quarter million – averted through Epic system alerts.

She’s also pleased that Epic customers have done well financially, she said. Yes, Epic EHR installations are known to cost millions of dollars. But, Faulkner has done the math and created charts. Over the years 2004 to 2015, and across all healthcare organizations, she believes that Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s statistics demonstrate that Epic customers reaped profitability unsurpassed by clients who implemented her competitors’ EHRs.

For Faulkner, 2016 was a very good year, indeed. From June through December, family members from around the world visited her and her husband in Madison, she engaged in work she loved, and she was often inspired.

Who inspired her the most in the past year? It was Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD, the doctor who — with the help the Epic EHR at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan — discovered the extent of the Flint water crisis.

“If we did not have Epic, if we did not have EMRs, if we were still on paper, it would have taken forever to get these results,” Hanna-Attisha was quoted as saying.

Healthcare organizations praise CMS’ overhaul of EHR incentive programs

LAS VEGAS — After CMS administrator Seema Verma announced plans to overhaul of the federal electronic health record incentive programs, healthcare organizations are wondering how those plans will unfold and whether they’ll meet the stated goal of boosting interoperability.

Details on the changes have been few and far between. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology will continue to work with the CMS to figure that out, said ONC head Dr. Donald Rucker.

“The goal is to really get information flowing and to put patients in control,” Rucker said. The government might do that by pushing open APIs, which Rucker has called the “most transformative” tool for interoperability.

Whether the overhaul will achieve that depends on what it includes and on how providers and others react to it, according to some healthcare organizations. Here, a sampling of what the industry had to say about what it wants to change and whether it can expect the changes to affect interoperability.

“If they still push interoperability and the C-CDA and have good API requirements, the overhaul will work well.”

— Micky Tripathi, CEO, Massachusetts eHealth Cooperative

“The focus is on interoperability and patient access to data. But I don’t see how it could be easier if we’re going to focus on the things that are toughest. TO me, what needs the overhaul is the quality payment program.”

— Naomi Levinthal, practice manager, Advisory Board

“The overhaul and interoperability go hand in hand.”

— Kathy Mosbaugh, vice president of healthcare analytics, LexisNexis RiskSolutions

“It’s exciting to see the federal government taking such significant action to ensure data follows the patient. We’ve long known the value of understanding claims data at the clinical point of care and hope other sources of data—such as that with commercial payers—will soon follow suit and better support needs of individuals.”

— Meg Marshall, senior director of public policy, Cerner

“Interoperability requirements were deferred for many years. The thing that made me optimistic is that there’d be no more deferrals. But I worry about the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, which could set back interoperability by years.”

— Carl Dvorak, president, Epic Systems Corp.

“We applaud the freeing of CMS data for patients, and we echo CMS’s sentiment that the deep burden afflicted on healthcare that is associated with documentation must be alleviated. While we wish CMS would also take this opportunity to recognize and work with ONC on the burden that the EHR certification program places on users of those products, we recognize CMS’s objective as being well-meaning.”

— Kyle Armbrester, chief product officer, Athenahealth

“We are hopeful the ACI overhaul outlined today will move us away from prescriptive measurements and toward using technology to improve patient health outcomes and patient access to data. We look forward to working with the administration in fleshing out the details to ensure that physicians get to spend more time caring for their patients and less time on administrative tasks.”

— Dr. David Barbe, president of the American Medical Association

“CMS’s announcements this week underscore the growing importance of health IT in care delivery as the move to value-based reimbursement continues to accelerate.”