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Epic Systems Tops Major EHR Vendors in Health IT Interoperability

Every top EHR vendor has its interoperability flaws, but Epic Systems and Cerner have made significant strides over the last few years.

Epic Systems is leading the way among EHR vendors and is making strides toward universal interoperability and patient data sharing, according to KLAS’s EMR Interoperability 2020 report.

Meanwhile, Cerner has made significant progress since KLAS’s prior interoperability report, with four times its customers reporting “deep interoperability” as they did roughly three years ago.

KLAS said it measures interoperability in four stages. “Deep interoperability” occurs when customers can:

  • Consistently access outside patient data
  • Easily locate patient records
  • View outside data within the EHR workflow
  • Experience positive impacts on patient care

In this report, KLAS interviewed over 200 healthcare organizations to gain insights into how their respective vendors guided them toward EHR interoperability.

“While all vendors have room to improve, some have proven more willing to work with other EMR vendors, have been more successful in enabling record exchange that impacts patient care, and have done better at providing and supporting meaningful API connections,” wrote KLAS.

Epic Systems is the first vendor to make real progress toward universal patient data sharing and interoperability.

Almost all Epic users reported access to outside data and nearly two-thirds achieve “deep interoperability.” However, its most progressive customers want the vendor to increase its use of APIs.

“Records from exchange partners are presented fairly automatically, allowing clinicians to make better use of data at the point of care,” wrote KLAS. “This success is tied to satisfaction improvements with outside-record sharing and increased participation in Carequality, as well as Epic’s proactive approach to progressing interoperability. Both Epic and nonEpic customers feel the vendor’s commitment to outside sharing has grown.”

Epic users may want increased API use, but the vendor is reluctant to partner with health IT developers to connect to APIs. Epic is not currently focusing on APIs, KLAS reported, and while the vendor will help its customers in that area, it is not taking a proactive approach on its own.

According to its customers, Cerner has made significant steps toward “deep interoperability.”

“Customers feel much of the effort to make Cerner’s interoperability tools work falls to them,” wrote KLAS. “Respondents starting to see Cerner be more proactive; recent improvements have been made in facilitating connections and presenting data to clinicians.”

Respondents noted improved fluid data presentation and patient data integration in the workflow. Cerner customers also said the vendor’s increased use of CommonWell is another reason for its improvement.

“Cerner is proud to continue leading on interoperability,” the vendor wrote in an emailed statement to EHRIntelligence. “As data continues to drive the future of health care, we are committed to advancing interoperability so that a patient’s record follows them throughout their care journey, regardless of system. By curating and organizing data from disparate systems, Cerner is making patient data more accessible and usable, further helping to create positive patient outcomes.”

Cerner customers also reported the broadest use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) APIs. The vendor utilizes APIs for patient data exchange and clinician-enabling tools. While it has yet to result in deep interoperability, it offers numerous avenues to achieving interoperability.

NextGen customers reported increased success in connecting to EHRs. However, the same clients would not report NextGen as a “deep interoperability” leader. If the vendor can present data strictly through the EHR and not an outside portal, it would increase customer satisfaction.

Allscripts Sunrise customers reported increased interoperability and patient data exchange, but it is based on increased internal effort. Customers said they can leverage dbMotion for added interoperability between Allscripts and outside EHRs, but it takes added effort. Overall, clinicians struggle to sift through extra patient data to find the necessary data.

While athenahealth has no issue sharing internally, the vendor is attempting to connect to more outside EHR systems and vendors than in previous years. Still, customers are facing several barriers.

“These often large, increasingly complex organizations note several barriers that prevent athenahealth from meeting their rising expectations, including the amount of effort required to locate records and difficulty incorporating records from many disparate systems,” wrote the authors.

Although MEDITECH Expanse may cut costs and reduce implementation complexities for health systems, legacy customers migrating to the Expanse platform are not reporting increased interoperability. The Expanse platform forces customers to enable interoperability independently and without help from the Expanse platform, but customers said they are satisfied with the new platform.

eClinicalWorks customers said the vendor’s “deep interoperability” efforts are minimal but these efforts are notable. Respondents noted increased EHR presentation of patient data but finding patient records is an ongoing issue.

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