Epic Systems, the Verona-based maker of computer-based medical records, seems to be on the cusp of rolling out its own health care-centric version of the iTunes store.
Epic’s App Orchard, which has been years in the making, will be an online marketplace where health care providers can browse through software made by non-Epic developers. All the software featured, ranging from tools for predicting health outcomes to guides on how to talk with patients about cancer treatment, would link up with Epic’s health records platform in some way.
The move is notable in part due to Epic’s reputation regarding outside software makers in the electronic medical record industry. The company is known for building all of its own software organically, and never acquiring the software of others. It has also faced criticisms for being “closed software,” both to external developers looking to connect into Epic’s platform and for patients alike.
The company’s president, Carl Dvorak, said that openness has “always been a part of Epic.” Dvorak, second in command to the company’s famous co-founder and CEO Judy Faulkner, said that the company’s own software will always be top priority, but that creating a gateway for third-party developers isn’t out of character for the company.
“People who build the apps look to fill in the white spaces. They’re not looking to build a replacement piece,” said Dvorak.
By introducing the App Orchard, Epic will join other EMR vendors like Cerner and AthenaHealth in offering app marketplaces or gateways for third parties to use.
Dvorak that things like data visualization tools, apps for analyzing patient information and recommending health decisions, and software for medical devices like pacemakers are examples of ideal candidates for the App Orchard. So far, he said that Epic has fielded interest from about 1,400 developers.
Developers would have to meet rigorous standards set by Epic with regard to things from security, patient safety notifications, and various aspects of how the external applications connect with Epic’s systems. Read the full story here.