What is our primary use case?
Right now Epic is a dominant part of our EHR (Electronic Health Record) covering the whole US plus about 18 European countries. They are in a very good position to make any decision in the future as far as being a leader in the field and driving the future development of healthcare record collection.
Our regional infrastructure kind of has a lot of difficulties in going to the cloud and some of that is based on the business considerations of the health records field. It is the dominant application for medium and large hospitals in the US.
Our primary use case is records management in hospitals but it extends to many other parts of hospital operations.
What is most valuable?
One of the most valuable things about the product is that there are so many features. There are so many different applications that it is split with different database module features for medical suppliers, for patient records, for medical supplies, or for insurance. Those are only some of the areas and all of them are integrated.
For research, there are just so many modules that focus on what particular users will need rather than grouping it all in one place where it would be clutter and confusing. The modularity is valuable.
What needs improvement?
They are improving the product every day. I think they need to break those upgrades down to a clearer model rather than continuous or agile delivery. They could do something like release a major version every quarter or six months, or do contained upgrades plus special options to upgrade anytime. Sometimes the frequency of the changes is just a little too much to follow and there are no typical, formal versioning points.
It would be nice to see Epic in the cloud, and that is a question clients always ask. But so far I have not heard anything about Epic moving to the cloud. In my estimation, that means there is no such plan to move to the cloud, basically.
Resisting a move to the cloud could be because of the current Epic infrastructure, and maybe they do not want to do that. It could also possibly be because of some type of security issues having to do with countries regulating the availability of critical information on the cloud.
For how long have I used the solution?
I have been using Epic Electronic Health Records since 2009. About eleven years.
What do I think about the stability of the solution?
I know Epic has been improving their product since they started installations for hospitals. They started working on that almost ten years ago. My feeling is that it is pretty stable right now. They always have bugs — probably because of the frequent updates and functionality changes — but overall it has become more stable even as more features have been added.
What do I think about the scalability of the solution?
The product has been scalable. It requires licenses for almost all their technical areas and modules. At times they add more features and you are not paying for those feature upgrades. So the product itself is expanding and scaling capabilities all the time.
Texas Children's hospital has 16,000 employees. Whoever works with patients for supply areas uses Epic. I would say there are at least 10,000 hospital staff users, plus patients also use the network and also use the application to access their data. When you include the number of patients, that is really a lot of users. There is never really an issue with scaling the number of users.
Right now, I do not think there are any plans to move to the cloud. That move would offer other opportunities for scalability.
How are customer service and technical support?
The technical support is very good. They work 24/7. Whatever issue you are having — especially if it is a production issue — they will reply to you immediately.
How was the initial setup?
The initial installation happened in 2009. All of the installations have been conducted by Epic. Epic is a very complex and very expensive solution. But they also have little competition and they take care of everything. I know the initial installation is only like 20 minutes or a very short amount of time. I have no idea about the maintenance.
What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?
I do not really know exactly how they model the cost, but I know that EHR is very, very expensive. Every new module you take on adds money to the cost. Sometimes if you add new features it costs money. But I do not know the exact monthly costs or annual costs. It is the primary application for many hospitals and it is necessary for operations at this point, so they can charge a lot.
What other advice do I have?
Epic is really pushing to be under constant development with this solution. I do not know if they have any plan to go to the cloud and right now and it is still in the client-server model. I do not work in the front line like in a clinical area, but I know about what these people need and request. I think epic is doing what they can to enhance the offering using a developer-based model and working on whatever they get from their customers or clients as suggestions to enhance the product. They develop the modules, they spend time working on different areas of the functionality, and then they just sell the modules to hospitals.
I am pretty sure they are working on some modules all the time and they are going to mostly work on developing those modules that they sell to hospitals. There is a lot of demand to fill. Of course, what every hospital will buy depends on their needs, but I know this is a continuous effort from Epic and they are filling out their offering based on user needs.
On a scale from one to ten where one is the worst and ten is the best. I would rate the Epic Electronic Health Records as a seven or even an eight-out-of-ten. I heard some negative comments from my colleagues — and just from my own experience — where the product could be better or perform better. Since there are very few real competitors for Epic, they can do what they think is most important for them. At the same time, there are no competing products to really compare it to.
Obviously, they are strong technically, and they can satisfy most clients. Giving them an eight is fair.
Which deployment model are you using for this solution?