Epic App Market is temporarily closed
Epic, the Verona, Wisconsin-based electronic health records giant, is shutting down its app marketplace and overhauling how end users interact with third-party apps.
Epic’s app marketplace, where developers can list their apps for end users to discover, will be temporarily closed on January 9, said Nate Bubb, head of technical services at Epic. Epic said. The company will reopen the app market on a determined date.
Instead, Epic will launch a Connection Hub, which will be an online directory where vendors can self-report if they have connected to Epic’s application programming interface. It will migrate all existing apps on the app marketplace to Vendor Services, a program where vendors can get developer support and the opportunity to test their code first. when switching to Connection Center. Bubb said no services will be affected by the transition.
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While Epic says this will increase the number of third-party vendors that can connect to its system, critics say the company is making it harder for vendors to choose. choose their own solution.
Glen Tullman, CEO of Transcarent, a virtual visit and benefits management company, and former CEO of Allscripts, an Epic competitor, said: “Imagine if Apple does the same thing. “Whose interests is Epic really serving?”
According to Epic, its health system customers are seeking clarity on the applications the company EHR has examined. Epic says it’s not a solution to destroy the platform, but that improvements to its system are needed because many apps already connect to its API.
“We have to support our core software and let [form] any kind of deeper relationship between 1000 suppliers is unsustainable,” says Bubb. “I can’t look anyone in the eye and say [users] We’re doing a thorough check to the extent that they think they’re doing it.”
Under the plan, a redesigned app marketplace will feature apps with Epic’s seal of approval. Bubb says it will include a smaller line of apps than the 800 currently listed. Other applications will be listed on the Connection Center directory if they are working with a client. They won’t get as much marketing and technical support as on the app store.
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Experts say vendors will be pushed towards the apps available on the Epic app marketplace.
“They want to maintain control,” said Alexander Lennox-Miller, lead analyst for healthcare IT at CB Insights. “Basically, it allows them to have two floors.”
Epic said it has yet to determine which apps will be selected for the revamped app store. Critics say the EHR company could be scrutinized for which companies are on the app market.
“They’re going to have to figure out how they build transparency for customers,” said Erik Brown, a senior partner in West Monroe’s product experience and engineering lab. “Who are the vendors that they have a relationship with compared to other similar solutions that they may not directly advertise?”
Bubb said the company is not against certain third-party vendors but that its end users have sought help in sorting out a crowded market.
“If you look at the last few years, over $50 billion has been invested in digital health startups that have come and gone,” Bubb said. “I’ve heard from a lot of customers that there’s a lot of noise and they want more signs.”
According to Bubb, Epic has not had any internal discussions about the fees it will seek for its approved solutions.
Brown said health systems should study and test any implementation with the same level of oversight no matter where it’s listed. Lennox-Miller warned developers in the spaces where Epic could potentially compete.
“If you have a product that fills a gap that Epic doesn’t offer, and it becomes hugely popular and successful… Epic’s next step is to develop a comparable product and they will roll out the product. that product, and that’s going to be free for all of their customers,” Lennox-Miller said.
However, Lennox-Miller isn’t entirely disappointed in Epic for making the move.
“Before this Epic, their relatively closed ecosystem, walled garden approach,” said Lennox-Miller. “They will still have some version of that with the app marketplace with their preferred vendors or whatever you want to call it, but in my opinion there’s a lot more that could potentially integrate. well integrated, actually being able to interact with core EHR functions would be better.”
This story first appeared in Digital Health Business & Technology.