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January 23, 2020 News 16 Comments

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Citing patient privacy concerns, Epic CEO Judy Faulkner urges leaders at some of the company’s largest hospital customers to sign a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar protesting the proposed interoperability rule published last year. Faulkner emphasizes the urgency with which the letter must be signed, saying there’s “[v]ery little time” and that the final rule may be published the first week of February.


The timing of the letter is odd, given that the proposed rule, which seeks to prevent information-blocking and give patients easier access to their data, was published early last year. Perhaps the company is trying to take advantage of decision-makers and media convening at ONC’s annual meeting in Washington, DC, which kicks off in a few days.

Reader Comments


From Tom Jackson: “Re: Epic’s info-blocking. Think about it – the big 2-3 EHR vendors are going to use the ‘security’ (fear/doubt) angle for ever to try and keep the oligopoly and ‘money printer’ they have today. This is a very expected play. They also know the architecture of what they’ve built is archaic and if the market opens up, apps/innovation will take over the provider and even patient user experience pretty rapidly. Just do a google search and look at the 1990s user interfaces that the big 2-3 still use today! Btw, the gigabytes of data we voluntarily expose each day is significantly more than the amount of healthcare data we obsessively try and protect.”


January 29 (Wednesday) 2:00 ET. “State of the Health IT Industry 2020.” Sponsor: Medicomp Systems. Presenters from Medicomp Systems: Dave Lareau, CEO; Jay Anders, MD, MS, chief medical officer; Dan Gainer, CTO; Toni Laracuente, CNO. Despite widespread adoption of EHRs, healthcare professionals struggle with several unresolved systemic challenges, including the lack of EHR usability, limited interoperability between disparate systems, new quality reporting initiatives that create administrative burdens, and escalating levels of physician burnout. Join the webinar to learn how enterprises can address current industry roadblocks with existing market solutions and fix health IT’s biggest challenges.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Consumer DNA testing company 23andMe lays off 100 employees as it struggles with declining sales. CEO Anne Wojcicki has attributed the decline to recessionary fears and data privacy concerns. She hired 23andMe’s first chief security officer earlier this week.


  • Partners HealthCare in Boston selects Clinical Architecture’s data quality and content management software.
  • In England, Babylon Health signs a 10-year agreement with the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust to develop an app that will offer the city’s 300,000 residents diagnoses, virtual care, and monitoring of chronic conditions; plus appointment booking, prescription refills, and other care management capabilities.
  • Roundtrip selects health data exchange capabilities from Redox to better integrate its patient ride-sharing software with EHRs. 



Care communication software vendor TigerConnect names Tim Goodwin (Vacasa) CTO.


Cerner VP of Strategic Growth Amanda Adkins steps down to focus on her campaign for the 3rd congressional district in Kansas.

Announcements and Implementations


Huntington Hospital (CA) deploys AI-enabled, stroke-detection software from Viz.ai.


UI Health (IL) goes live with managed services from HCTec.

Privacy and Security


Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) calls on the Defense Health Agency to look into lax data practices at three Army facilities that have left the medical images of over 9,000 military patients exposed online. German cybersecurity experts discovered the unsecured PACS last year. DHA CIO Patrick Flanders believes the images were stored on servers belonging to private companies doing business with the DoD: “What’s happened is DoD has either shared its data with a commercial entity that failed to follow security procedures or individual patients have gone to hospitals and gotten their record … when you are referred to private practice … you go get it, and it’s uploaded into the commercial world and it’s susceptible.”



China suspends transportation in and out of three cities in an effort to contain the coronavirus, which has infected more than 500 people and killed 17. One US citizen in Washington has been diagnosed with the virus so far, prompting his caregivers at Providence Health & Services to add travel and screening alerts to their Epic system. NYC Health + Hospitals is making similar adjustments to its Epic EHR in anticipation of travelers arriving for Chinese New Year celebrations.


Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center in Colorado pilots the Mayo Clinic’s Nest West virtual care program, which offers expectant mothers the option of having four to seven of the typical 12 to 14 prenatal appointments virtually. Patients take readings at home using borrowed tools like digital blood pressure cuffs and bathroom scales, and then share those readings with nurses via telemedicine software provided by Doxy.Me. Birth Center staff have high hopes for the virtual visits, given that 14% of their patients drive over an hour – sometimes in harsh winter conditions – to make their appointments.

Sponsor Updates

  • Elsevier will organize a new conference, AI and Big Data in Cancer: From Innovation to Impact, March 29-31 in Boston.
  • Ensocare will exhibit at the 2020 Patient Flow Management Summit January 30-31 in Las Vegas.
  • Healthcare Growth Partners publishes its “Semi-Annual Health IT Market Review.”
  • InterSystems releases a new podcast, “Jim Collins: An Authentic Approach to Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare.”
  • Health Catalyst becomes the first healthcare member of the Partnership on AI.

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Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. Yeah, can’t wait till the architecture is opened up and I can place orders with my ordering app. Then scans with my imaging app. Then diet orders in my patients’ favorite diet tracking app. Maybe I can review them all in a new Review app! The future!

    • Don’t forget that your ordering app is going to need permissions on the device to read (and transmit) your contacts, and that your imaging app is going to need permission to access your GPS information AND your camera.

    • I’d think some simulations based in the reality of the state of semantic data standards, variations in workflow across EHR implementations and vendors, security and authentication alongside the joys of switching apps to get one encounter ‘done’ may temper the excitement?

  2. I guess Epic made chart download from MyChart technically available in 2010 and Share Everywhere functionally technicality available in 2017?

  3. Interesting — the letter from Epic is not personally addressed to the recipient and there is a grammatical error in a sentence. Do you recall when Neil Patterson discovered the typo on McKessons’ banner at HIMSS and he took a picture of himself under the banner. McKesson took it down in seconds. Ironic — come on Epic proof your letters.

  4. Is Eric Topol so desperate as to publicly make provably false claims? I know that my MyChart account has a “Share my Record” menu entry under Profile, where the “Download” option has been there for what seems to be forever, and more recently the “Share Everywhere” button allows sending an e-mail with a time-limited one-time link to access my record.

    On the whole “Epic letter” thing, I think “Burgers” gave a good analogy on how the proposed rule can turn into a privacy nightmare, since it effectively prohibits any vetting of apps by EHR vendors or healthcare organizations. We already know what “health” apps do with personal information, don’t we?


  5. Even if we were to attribute the best intentions (privacy, VCs making hay from data etc.) to Epic’s lack of enthusiasm towards ONC’s data sharing rule, the way they have approached it has been a PR and political disaster for them. Whoever is managing the strategy on this from Epic’s side should be fired.

  6. Re: Tom Jackson comment – do you have a Facebook account? Curious as to why you think the security concerns are not legitimate. If the federal government would actually pass meaningful consumer privacy reform, then you would have a point. As it stands now, a FHIR app could request access to your data, and bury in the ToS that they will re-sell their data to “trusted partners”. Maybe you’re just more comfortable exposing your medical history to others than I am?

    I’m also curious as to why no one has successfully competed with Cerner, Epic, and Meditech’s archaic architecture. Do you care to specify what about their architecture is archaic? I challenge you to use something other than Google image search screenshots to make your point.

  7. Talk about not knowing your audience. If anything Epic’s customers want _more_ access to their own data for their own purposes. I’d hope that Epic’s customers let Judy know she’s just on the wrong side of this issue.

    Nothing’s quite as frustrating as trying to work with an Epic customer on a project _for the epic customer_ to be told that we’d need to enter into an onerous contract just to work with the customer’s data with overbroad no-hires and non-solicits. Forget that. We work with lots of source systems and databases without having to enter into an agreement with the vendor who we don’t otherwise have a relationship. But a client who says they want us to work with “Epic” to get their data is basically not much of a client at this point because Epic is the roadblock to useful work. Anything that focuses the data access issue on the fact that it’s not Epic or Cerner who own the data — it’s the customer — is for the best. It seems this proposed regulation is doing that.

  8. Topol goes overboard just as much as Epic, just the other side of the boat.

    1. Epic doesn’t ‘make’ over $3billion. They gross $3bill, net far less. But he’s a doc not a finance guy.
    2. I have used MyChart more times than I can count to download (and print) my detailed MR over the last 6 years. When I have handed a USB stick to other providers they don’y want it. So I give them my 50+ page hard copy and they stick it in the back of their chart and DO NOT read it! Often they ask “Have you ever had problem X? and I answer: Did you read the MR I gave you? It’s noted there several times…

    • Eric Topol is incredibly frustrating. He is uniquely arrogant in his hubris, even when he’s provably wrong half the time he opens his mouth about EHRs. And the Twitter MD’s line up to pat him on the back, somehow thinking the federal government will be more helpful to them than their own organization’s IT department. I don’t fault their intentions, I just find it ironic how they both demonize EHR firms’ consumption of federal MU dollars, while also lauding the federal government as the savior of interoperability. Meanwhile, the federal government can’t even define or implement interoperability at their own healthcare facilities (@Vaporware). The amount of people who claim to speak with authority on these topics, while completely glossing over the meaningful details is just head spinning.

      • Eric Topol is a thought leader. His writing makes readers feel good about themselves so that they keep reading. It also needs to have enough reach to get published.

        Facts and decent writing only matter in service of those first two goals. His copy can be topical, novel, or approachable but not revolutionary, deep, or tough.

  9. Re: Epic’s Information Blocking: No one passionate about patients and their care opposes interoperability. The only care Epic cares about is Epic.

    • Disclaimer: on the internet, nobody knows that you’re a dog.

      Given that I once worked at Epic on Care Everywhere, I can say that just about everybody there strongly cared about patients and interoperability. It’s the number one reason I personally went into work, day in after out.

      Do I agree with Epic in how they treat their employees? Absolutely not. Do I believe their intent to help patients? Absolutely.

    • I got my start in healthcare at Epic. The guiding principle for my team and for the teams I managed was always, “The needs of the patient come first.”

      I didn’t agree with everything that Judy and Epic did. I also emphatically believe your statement that Epic only cares about Epic is dead wrong.

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