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Epic founder Faulkner highlights DBMI online seminar

Feb. 25, 2021, 8:02 AM


by Paul Govern

The CEO and founder of one of the world’s largest electronic health record (EHR) vendors, Judith Faulkner of Epic Systems Corp., spoke about her company and answered questions recently at the Department of Biomedical Informatics weekly online seminar.

Judith Faulkner

Faulkner’s privately owned company, based in Verona, Wisconsin, was reported to have a 28% market share, as of 2018, in terms of EHR systems used in U.S. acute care hospitals. Vanderbilt University Medical Center installed Epic’s software in 2017.

Dara Mize, MD, assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics, moderated the seminar. She asked Faulkner what Epic might be doing to help relieve the clinical documentation burden for clinicians.

Faulkner said the company is still at least two years away from releasing an artificial intelligence component that could listen in on the conversation between the clinician and patient and then draft clinician orders and a plan of care.

She observed that U.S. clinicians in part bring the documentation burden on themselves, writing notes in the record that are far longer than those written by their foreign counterparts, often needlessly repeating information in the note that is already captured and presented elsewhere in the record.

With the federal government soon to require that health care providers make the full EHR immediately available to patients, Faulkner said Epic has no plans to reprogram the Epic patient portal, My Chart, to allow patients to selectively turn off or delay notifications for things like cancer pathology results.

Under an initiative called Epic Health Research Network, the company publishes research on an expedited basis using a process described as “internal peer review.” Faulkner said information from this project appears to have helped improve care of critically ill COVID-19 patients, specifically influencing clinicians to place patients on their sides and delay placing them on ventilators.

Mize asked Faulkner how people in academic medicine can work with vendors like Epic to improve health care for all patients.

“The first thing that comes to mind is to know us, and know the software and utilize it well,” Faulkner said. “Nobody utilizes the software as well as it should be done.”

After learning that most Epic customers didn’t realize that My Chart had for years been available in Spanish, she set up a rating system to keep customers apprised of the degree to which their organization was using Epic’s various capabilities.

Faulkner, a computer programmer, started the company in her basement apartment in Madison, Wisconsin, in 1979. Now with some 10,000 employees and annual sales of $3.2 billion, the company has never raised venture capital or made an acquisition. Everything Epic sells is developed in-house.

Faulkner has pledged 99% of her wealth to philanthropy.

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