Epic to launch app store

Verona, Wisconsin-based electronic health record vendor Epic Systems is about to venture into new territory, readying to launch an app store that would enable third-party companies to create and sell apps that would work with its own EHRs, according to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal.

The app store, called "App Exchange," would work in a way similar to Apple's iTunes app store, according to information shared at a meeting of the Wisconsin Innovation Network in Madison by Mark Bakken, co-founder and former chief executive of Nordic Consulting, which works with Epic.  The first apps are expected from Epic's customers, such as healthcare organizations, to market products to other Epic customers. Epic spokesperson Shawn Kiesau confirmed the plan but provided no specific details, according to the article. 

"Once they officially launch this, then it'll be very, very easy. 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 is huge," Bakken said.

The article does not address potential questions about the program, such as whether non-Epic customers can participate, or whether app developers would be required to update their products.

Bakken also noted that this move may help Epic fight back against critics who say that Epic's systems are too closed and don't allow for data sharing with other EHRs. Interoperability and data sharing is one of the nation's highest health IT priorities. Congress has instructed the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to study the "information blocking" problem and certify only EHRs that allow data sharing. One Congressman has singled out Epic for operating a closed system.

Epic has the highest market share for ambulatory products and is vying with Cerner for the top spot in the hospital EHR market.

To learn more:
- read the article