Epic Systems hires lobbyist to repair interoperability image
Electronic health-record giant Epic Systems Corp. has hired Washington lobbying firm Card & Associates to counter a negative perception in Congress that its EHR systems are not interoperable with other vendors’ technology.
The move comes as Epic has teamed with IBM to compete for a multibillion-dollar contract to modernize the U.S. Defense Department’s clinical technology systems.
The Verona, Wis.-based company retained the lobbying firm in August. It did not previously have representation on Capitol Hill, according to the federal Lobbying Disclosure Act database. Epic said in the registration that it was making the move to “educate members of Congress on the interoperability of Epic’s healthcare infor- mation technology.”
An Epic spokesman said “we have engaged government relations support to help educate legislators on what is happening with healthcare IT and, in particular, on advancing EHRs and interoperability.”
Bradford Card, CEO of Card & Associates and brother of Andrew Card, President George W. Bush’s former chief of staff, said Epic has been the “subject of misinformation.” His firm will work to set the record straight. “There have been stories that they’re not interoperable, when in fact they are,” Card said.
Hiring lobbyists is out of character for Epic, which has a reputation for staying out of the Washington politi- cal fray.
In a July congressional hearing, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), a physician, had sharp words for the company, citing a RAND Corp. report asserting that Epic’s systems were “closed records.”
Gingrey argued that the federal program providing incentive payments for healthcare providers to install EHRs was intended to promote interoperability. “Is the government getting its money’s worth?” he asked. “It may be time for the (Energy and Commerce) committee to take a closer look at the practices of vendor companies in this space, given the possibility that fraud may be perpetrated on the American taxpayer.”
The move to hire lobbyists is out of character for Epic, which has a reputation for staying out of the Washington political fray.