Epic Systems Community Connect Users Completely Unsatisfied

Epic’s Community Connect platform garnered poor reviews by its customers in a recent KLAS survey.

Midsize to large ambulatory health facilities that choose Epic System’s Community Connect model are less satisfied than those that choose to work directly with the vendor, according to a 2020 KLAS Pulse Check report.

A large ambulatory facility has two choices for connecting to the Epic EHR network, including: direct contracting through the vendor or Community Connect, which relies on a contract with a nearby hospital.

Community Connect is a cost-effective program that allows hospitals to connect to a larger local hospital in order to connect to the Epic EHR network. It enhances interoperability with the nearby health system, thus, increasing referrals and a providing a lower cost EHR implementation.

While Community Connect has its advantages, the report found that midsize to large ambulatory organizations have a better experience when dealing directly from the vendor.  

On the other hand, those utilizing the Community Connect platform are less satisfied and they also blame Epic for allowing host organizations to deliver a sub-par experience compared to its usual high standard.

On a 100-point scale, respondents who worked directly with Epic graded the vendor a 91.3 overall score. Those who worked with Community Connect graded it a 78.8 overall score.

Respondents who worked directly with Epic were also more likely to recommend that avenue, scoring it an 8.7 on a 9-point scale, compared to respondents who utilized Community Connect (6.8).

“Those with direct Epic contracts—who therefore receive support directly from the vendor—say that Epic works collaboratively with them to solve problems,” wrote the authors of the report. “Support personnel are described as knowledgeable and empowered to make changes or fixes that improve the EMR experience and help users work more efficiently.”

Community Connect members also said that the quality of support experience is based on the host organization.

“A number of these organizations say issues are sometimes overlooked by the host organization or not resolved to their satisfaction,” continued the authors. “Sometimes changes requested by the customer are denied by the host organization. Additionally, the level of expertise at host organizations is inconsistent.”

As noted, the respondents who are on the Community Connect platform fault Epic for their poor experience.

Although Community Connect customer satisfaction is similar to other EHR providers, they hold Epic to a higher standard.

When grading their overall customer experience, direct users graded their overall relationship with the vendor as an “A,” while Community Connect users graded their overall relationship as a “C+.”

The overall loyalty grade was also much higher for direct customers, grading it an “A+” compared to Community Connect customers who graded it a “B-.”

“Compared to organizations directly contracted with Epic, Community Connect users are less satisfied in nearly every KLAS metric—including overall performance and how likely customers are to recommend Epic to peers,” wrote the authors.

“Four of the ten who gave feedback about their implementation report a subpar experience, citing issues with integration, physician usability, and getting specialty-specific workflows,” they continued. “While some fault their host organization, several are frustrated with Epic for allowing host organizations to implement a subpar version of EpicCare.”

Respondents also felt that Epic’s perceived value was much lower for Community Connect customers than those who worked directly with the vendor.

“Many Community Connect users attribute their EMR struggles to a loss of control over their own EMR experience and place significant value on that control,” concluded the authors.

“Organizations directly contracting for EpicCare Ambulatory EMR report that while the cost of the system is relatively quite high, the overall EMR experience that Epic delivers (e.g., product quality, user experience, integration, and new functionality) is well worth the higher price.”

Even with lower grades from Community Connect customers, Epic Systems still ranks high in the EHR industry.

For the tenth straight year, Epic was awarded the top overall software suite in the 2020 Best in KLAS health IT rankings. Overall, Epic earned eight awards, including top overall physician practice vendor.

The vendor giant also won category leader awards in four separate segments.

This comes after taking home nine Best in KLAS awards in 2019, including best overall software suite and overall physician practices.

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