Jan 15 2012

Epic Systems in the News

Published by at 11:08 am under AHLTA,Heath IT,VistA

Epic Systems and Judy Faulkner made the NY Times today, describing their rise over 30 years to be one of the leading EMR vendors.  She came out of the same era as the VA VistA world did; the major difference being that the VistA crowd followed an open source, public domain model, while Epic is one of the most closed, expensive systems on the market.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)  issued a report complimenting both Epic and VistA as successful examples of large scale electronic health record systems, not recognizing that they were architectural first cousins.  Both are based on the MUMPS language, and both use a meta-data driven approach (VistA uses FileMan, Epic uses Chronicles).  The report also called for a universal exchange language, not realizing that this was essentially MUMPS is – the result of decades of support from NIH, National Bureau of Standards, NLM, and the VA.

Both systems are recognized by their integrated nature – I used to say that VistA was integrated by virtue of not disintegrating.

It is interesting to contrast the decades-long success of VistA and Epic – based on a unified metatdata system – vs other attempts at integrating “best of breed” systems, such as the fiascos of the National Health Service ($17b)  Ontario ($1b), and AHLTA ($4b).

VistA is free and open source software – Here a complete stack of software that can be loaded and run on any Intel box.  It doesn’t come with a treehouse and slide, unfortunately.  For that, you’ll have to pay milllions to Epic for pretty much the same functionality.




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