Technology in HealthcareThe government has established aggressive goals for pushing healthcare providers toward the adoption of interoperable electronic healthcare record (EHR) systems. While the government's plans may be aggressive, having a trusted technology partner assisting through the process can ease the pain significantly.

I recently wrote a white paper, "Get Ready; Healthcare Is Speeding into the Digital Age," discussing interoperability, the challenges it presents, and some of the solutions available to providers. This blog covers a key area of the paper: technology vendors.

The leading vendor of EHR systems is Epic Systems Corp., which provides a client-server, on-premise solution. Epic provides "individual, customized installations for each client; [and has] a reputation for near-flawless implementation," according to a recent article in Forbes1. However, the article noted that "while Epic systems seem to be able to communicate with other Epic systems with relative ease, communication outside of Epic seems more problematic."

Epic's chief competitor has been Cerner Corp., which also offers a client-server solution. In July 2015, Cerner and IBM jointly won a $4.3 billion, 10-year contract to provide the U.S. Department of Defense with an EHR system.

A smaller company that has been widely recognized is athenahealth Inc., the latest entry in the cloud-based industry. The company is proving to be the leader in low-cost, subscription-based, off-premise solutions.

All three vendors provide widely used solutions, but practitioners and hospitals that implement these will nonetheless face challenges as they seek to meet interoperability standards.

Among these challenges are the need to follow protocols and procedures such as HL7, which is a widely used standard for facilitating communication between two or more clinical applications; the Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine, which includes codes, terms, synonyms, and definitions used in clinical documentation and reporting; and data encryption, which provides security in accordance with federal requirements.

Practitioners and hospitals must overcome additional challenges as they move toward interoperability; for example, choosing the right EHR system for the organization; implementing the EHR system within the current infrastructure (and possibly replacing an existing system or systems); analyzing terms and practices currently in use so that these can be altered to meet new standards; and training staff to adapt successfully to the changing environment.

While the challenges are daunting, they are not impossible. Critical to success is the selection of a technology partner that has extensive experience with interoperability and the technical and regulatory issues it presents. CapTech has the proven strategy, experience, and resources to help practitioners and hospitals meet these challenges and succeed in the digital age.

To request a copy of the white paper, click here.

1 Shaywitz, David. (2012, June 9). "Epic Challenge: What The Emergence of an EMR Giant Means For the Future of Healthcare Innovation." Retrieved from