Paul Levy urges investigation of Epic for antitrust violations

Epic Systems is engaging in unlawful antitrust activity, according to former Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CEO Paul Levy, who adds in a blog post that the company should be investigated by the Massachusetts state attorney general.

In the post, Levy expresses concern about the recent deal between Epic and Partners HealthCare, a dominant provider in Massachusetts, which launched Epic earlier this summer at a cost of $1.2 billion. Citing Epic's and Partners' "remarkable reinforcement" of mutual self-interest, Levy says that the Partners-affiliated but independent physician practices now will be forced to transition to Epic systems because of interoperability concerns, even if their current EHRs are adequate. If a practice doesn't do so, it no longer will be able to participate in Partners' favorable health insurer contracts.

"It is in this manner that the Epic-Partners actions box out the competition in this market, acting on the pair's mutual self-interest," Levy says. "They are complicit with each other in helping to ensure that PHS keeps its network strong by holding on to physician groups and that Epic expands its market power by expelling established competitors. 

"This may not be your usual type of anti-trust activity, but it is anti-trust activity nonetheless," he adds. "And you can bet it is happening in other states as well."

Antitrust issues are already a front-burner issue for state attorneys general and regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission, in light of recent hospital consolidations, the required dissolution of St. Luke's purchase of Saltzer Medical Group, and the proposed merger of insurers Aetna and Humana, which is under scrutiny in several states.

Epic is already a dominant vendor in the physician market, which has been shrinking in recent years. The vendor has been criticized for operating proprietary EHR systems that don't allow for data sharing with other EHRs.   

One Congressman went so far as to call Epic's system as a "fraud" against American taxpayers.

To learn more:
- read the blog post