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September 15, 2017

Epic announces new way to let patients share EHRs with any doctor

Daily Briefing

    Read Advisory Board's take on this story.

    Epic on Wednesday unveiled a new product that aims to improve interoperability by enabling patients to digitally share their health records with any doctor they choose, including those who do not have EHR systems.

    How it works

    The new product, called Share Everywhere, will allow a patient to send a digital copy of their medical record to any provider in the world who has internet access.

    According to Modern Healthcare, Share Everywhere is essentially a digital upgrade to patients' longstanding practice of taking printouts of their medical record from one provider to another. "We've all been in situations where we have a family member who is carrying around a whole stack of paper charts to be able to share that information when they go to a new place for care," said Sean Bina, Epic's VP of access applications.

    Under Epic's new system, patients using Epic's patient-facing app will be able to generate a code that they can send to a doctor.  The receiving doctor will be able to access the patient's record through a website, and they can add notes to the patient's EHR to be sent back to the patient's health care organization to better facilitate "continuity of care," Janet Campbell, Epic's VP of patient engagement, said.

    According to Epic, patient privacy is protected, and the product adheres to HIPAA rules by ensuring that patients control who can access their health records.

    "The patient information is the patient's," said Ken Dort, a cybersecurity expert and partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath. "It's flowing from the patient to the doctor, so the person who should be having the control does."

    Share Everywhere will be released in November as an update to Epic's MyChart (Monica, EHR Intelligence, 9/13; Arndt, Modern Healthcare, 9/13).

    Advisory Board's take

    John Kontor, EVP, Clinovations

    John Kontor, EVP, Clinovations

    Epic already has an advanced the patient portal with MyChart, and now "Share Everywhere" further proves Epic's focus is on empowering patients to not just have access to their record, but to share it easily with other providers. The sharing capability isn't completely new: EpicCare Link is an existing functionality that allows providers on Epic to share a patient's medical records with other providers. What Share Everywhere does is further patients' ability to determine how their information is exchanged and gives patients additional responsibility for managing their own care.

    Share Everywhere is not a solution to interoperability. Interoperability is about creating data standards and mechanisms to freely exchange data between different EHRs, as well as between EHRs and third-party technologies. While Share Everywhere will make it easier for providers to use direct messaging to send documents into Epic, it maintains Epic as the hub, rather than solving for the industry-wide needs—like common data specifications—for true interoperability. Of course, this isn't a problem that Epic can solve alone. Epic's market share gives it influence, but the whole industry, including regulators and end-users, must drive toward interoperability together.

    Overall, Share Everywhere is another important industry advance—and alongside EpicCare Link, Kit, and App Orchard, is further evidence of Epic's commitment to improve access to data within its system.

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