As 2019 comes to a close and teams begin to plan for 2020, it’s the perfect time to look back on the year in EHR. While some trends health systems and hospitals know all too well, such as concerns around physician burnout, remain top of mind, there may be major changes in the world of Epic, EHR and healthcare in the years ahead. Here’s what we saw impacting teams in 2019, and where the industry is headed as we leave the 2010’s behind: 

2019 Epic Developments 

In 2019, Epic announced a new upgrade release cycle. For the first time, the software provider announced that they would be switching to a quarterly release schedule. Given the time, energy and resources that are needed to successfully roll out an Epic upgrade, the news made many healthcare leaders nervous. How would they be able to prepare their teams for this new cadence without disrupting established workflows? 

In lieu of adhering to four upgrades a year, teams are weighing their options, with many opting for bi-annual upgrade plan. To make sure they’re prepared to take on these challenges, teams are also increasingly adding upgrades to their critical path to ensure resource allocation for their steady state team.

Secondly, in any industry defined by technology, innovation is key for continued success. Epic has identified the need to create new functionality to address the evolving needs of the marketplace. In fact, during this year’s Epic User Group Meeting (Epic UGM), the organization announced a new featured called Storyboard. This latest offering represents a wide-sweeping user experience improvement, giving Epic customers access to unique views of patient details without having to jump around from screen to screen. Think of it as a quick launching pad for clinicians to easily access the data that’s most important to them. 

Also announced during Epic UGM 2019 was the Cosmos module, a program designed to mine data from millions of patient medical records at various health systems to help research the effectiveness of treatments. In short, this is a game-changer. From the outset of electronic health records, the hope was to someday distill down the information collected from millions of health system visits to improve patient care and medical outcomes; now, we may be on the verge of seeing this potential fulfilled beginning in 2020. 

What’s Ahead in 2020? 

Given what we learned as an industry in 2019, there are exciting EHR-driven opportunities for hospitals and health systems to consider in the decade ahead. Here are eight trends I have identified that will shape the future of healthcare:

  1. The focus on physician satisfaction and engagement isn’t going anywhere. While new offerings like Storyboard will help, more training and resources will need to be dedicated to improving in these areas in 2020 and beyond. 
  2. Mergers, acquisitions and consolidation will continue to reshape the marketplace. With these major organizational changes comes an increased focus by organizations on migrating to a single EHR in order to realign teams. 
  3. As teams strive to get the most out of their EHR solutions, optimization projects will expand. More hospitals and health systems will be choosing to implement modules like Beaker, Beacon, Home Health and Tapestry that help to improve efficiency.
  4. Epic goes small. There was a time when smaller settings, such as regional hospitals and physician groups, were not seen as candidates for Epic implementations, but those days are behind us. With solutions tailored to smaller-sized health systems and hospitals, Epic is now expanding its reach to accommodate teams of all sizes. 
  5. Eliminating customizations gains momentum. Long-term Epic users are realizing that getting closer to foundation is critical and are embarking on Refuel projects – stripping away customized elements of their EHR. This helps teams to reduce maintenance costs and allows for easier upgrades, as well as higher Gold Star and Honor Role ratings.
  6. EHR turns to the cloud. While cloud solutions have been around for some time now, the benefits are only beginning to be felt in our world. Now, instead of being hosted internally at health systems at a high cost, EHRs are increasingly being deployed to a cloud platform. 
  7. The race to disrupt the industry. With tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft making headlines seemingly every day, it’s only a matter of time until an organization completely upends the healthcare industry as we currently know it. Who will it be in 2020?
  8. It all comes back to the patient. All of the innovations shaping the future of healthcare would mean nothing if they did not lead to improved patient experience and outcomes. With that in mind, patient engagement is going to be a key area of focus in the years ahead. Offerings like Epic MyChart are empowering patients to take control of their care virtually, taking healthcare out of the hospital and expanding its reach with the power of mobile technology. 

The healthcare industry has always thrived by leading the way through innovation, and EHR will be the key to ushering in the future of patient care. After an exciting 2019, our team is eager to partner with organizations looking for solutions to the big challenges facing healthcare professionals, patients and communities.

Is your team ready to get ahead of the 2020 EHR trends? Contact the Alidade Group team at contactus@alidadegroup.com to get your project started today! 

About the Author: Tony Catalano is Managing Partner at Alidade Group.When Tony is not working, he is either on the golf course or on a lake fishing.