May 17, 2020

Epic's New Edge? An App Store Just for Health Care Professionals

mHealth
EHR
mHealth
EHR
Admin
2 min
Epic is a privately held health care software company, whose systems are installed in large major hospitals, and hold the medical records of 54% of patients in the U.S. and 2.5% of patients worldwide.
Epic Systems – the health IT giant based in Verona, Wisconsin – is planning to launch its own app store called the “App Exchange.&rdqu...

Epic Systems – the health IT giant based in Verona, Wisconsin – is planning to launch its own app store called the “App Exchange.”

Similar to Apple’s iTunes store, the exchange would allow developers to create apps that integrate with Epic’s EHR platform.

The news, first reported by the Wisconsin State Journal, was announced by Mark Bakken, co-founder and former chief executive of Nordic Consulting, the largest consulting firm working with customers of Epic.

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Bakken said the app store will launch in the coming weeks and could serve as a economic boom for companies to develop and market their apps, especially those in the Madison area populated by former Epic employees.

“We think Apple is big now? This will cement their long-term legacy. It’s exactly the right thing to do,” said Bakken in an interview with the newspaper.

Similar to Apple, Epic will soon publish a set of application standards and guidelines for app developers. Bakken stated that the first set of apps will be focused on Epic’s customers followed by consumer-focused apps.

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“It will really open the floodgates for anyone that knows Epic to really get their product on the market quickly and in front of Epic’s customers. So the distribution channel will be huge,” Bakken noted.  

According to the journal, Bakken said the App Exchange should squash some of the criticism Epic has drawn from those who say its system is too closed.

Additionally, interoperability could prove crucial as the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) considers which team should receive a contract worth up to $11 billion over five years to install an EHR system for the U.S. military. Epic and IBM have submitted a joint application for that contract, which is expected to be awarded later this year.

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Jul 25, 2021

Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare

Data
healthcare
CloudComputing
Technology
 Joe Gaska
4 min
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
 Joe Gaska, CEO of GRAX, tells us how healthcare providers can become cloud-based and data-driven organisations

As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025. 

At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance. 

Meeting regulation requirements

It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.

Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.

However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.

Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk. 

With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?

Data ownership

Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.

Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.

Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools. 

When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole. 

To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone. 

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