Got Epic? Jobs abound for those with Epic experience.

Those seeking healthcare IT jobs often hear one question: “Do you have Epic work experience?” How did the privately-held company emerge as an industry leader, and how can healthcare IT professionals cash in on the rising number of Epic jobs?

September 12, 2012
Epic Jobs
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Story Highlights

  • Award-winning provider of EHR software, Epic Systems, has claimed a place as a leader in the EHR market with some of the nation’s largest healthcare systems using Epic applications.
  • Epic’s success is due in part to its tight control over the implementation process – including requiring Epic training for relevant staff.
  • The shortage of IT professionals with Epic work experience is a challenge for healthcare organizations that are otherwise eager to move forward.
  • Epic training and certification is often mandatory in order to be considered for Epic jobs.
  • The initial Epic work experience is a challenge to get, but once an IT professional has worked with the application(s), Epic jobs are readily available.

The award-winning provider of EHR software, Epic Systems, may boast “fewer customers,” but when the client list includes some of the largest and most prestigious healthcare systems in the country, it’s fair to call the $1.2 billion company an “industry leader.” How did it happen? Some say it started when Epic secured a $1.8 billion deal with Kaiser Permanente back in 2003 (the deal has since evolved into a $4 billion, 10-year project); others suggest a turning point was in 2007 when independent software reviewer KLAS put 7 Epic products on its renowned list of the top 20 IT programs. Or maybe it was just earlier this year, when the CMS released data showing Epic to be the EHR system used by the majority of clinicians and hospitals receiving incentives for achieving level-one Meaningful Use. Certainly with this news, Epic’s position as a market leader became indisputable.

Of course, in the fast-paced world of technology, industry leaders can quickly change, but for now, Epic has certainly carved out a significant piece of the market. In a recent interview with Information Week Healthcare, David Foote, co-founder, CEO, and chief researcher of Foote Partners, an independent IT benchmark research and advisory firm, confirms Epic’s position in the EHR marketplace:

“Of all the vendors in the EHR/EMR space, the one we kept hearing the most about from our many hospital and health care systems customers and prospects is Epic Systems. Epic is by no means the largest vendor, but it seems to have a cachet in the marketplace, a strong product differentiation.”

And just what is that differentiation? For one, Epic develops, installs, and supports all of its products in-house. And by having “fewer customers” (270 according to their website), Epic is able to offer customer service that exceeds expectations. The Epic modules – there are over 30 – are reportedly easier to use than most EHR systems, and the company has a reputation for on-time and on-budget implementations.

Some say the key to Epic’s success in this area has been their tight control over both the implementation and use of their products. Anyone working on an Epic implementation must receive training at the company’s headquarters in Verona, Wisconsin. Epic offers training and certification specific to each of its 30+ applications, most requiring several days of training in Wisconsin followed by weeks of online study before completing an exam and a project. The process can take several months. Thus, Epic jobs require certifications that aren’t easy for health IT professionals to obtain, which is why Epic jobs, while easy to find, aren’t easy to get.

Who can fill the Epic jobs?

While recent legislation has created urgency around the implementation and meaningful use of EHR systems, Epic’s interest in EHR technology has spanned 3 decades. The company has spent more than 30 years developing and perfecting the modules that approximately 1 in 4 US physicians will use when current rollouts are complete. But who will execute those rollouts? Epic jobs abound for those with the right experience, but the shortage of IT professionals with Epic work experience is an ongoing complaint among healthcare organizations that are otherwise eager to move forward.

Instead of using contractors for their Epic jobs, organizations may send members of their current IT staff for Epic training, which is how many IT professionals earn their Epic certifications. Organization can certainly hire non-certified talent to fill their Epic jobs, but the new hire would then have to undergo Epic training, and with Meaningful Use deadlines looming, most organizations don’t have the time to wait for a new hire to be trained. Thus, organizations are typically seeking an IT contractor who already has the applicable Epic training and experience.

Some IT professionals, seeing the abundance of Epic jobs, wish to pursue Epic training as an alternative to gaining the elusive Epic work experience. Unfortunately, Epic training and certification is available only to those who are already working on an Epic implementation. But of course, organizations don’t usually hire talent that isn’t already trained and certified. Thus, Epic job seekers face an impossible circumstance: They need an Epic job to get Epic work experience, but without Epic experience they can’t get an Epic job.

Qualifying to undergo Epic training is clearly no easy task, but once health IT professionals have earned an Epic certification, they shouldn’t have a problem getting Epic job offers. One Epic-certified consultant (interviewed for the same Information Week Healthcare article referenced above) says he is contacted by recruiters for Epic jobs 10 to 15 times per week. Interestingly, despite the high-demand for Epic work experience, the Foote Partners Epic Systems Salary Survey did not see a consistent premium paid to those with an Epic certification. Thus for now, the main perk for those with Epic training is the comfort in knowing there will be no shortage of Epic jobs in the near future.

Conclusion

The astounding growth of Epic has the industry buzzing. Will their dominance help or hurt healthcare innovation? Does Judith Faulkner, the founder (and largest shareholder) of the privately-held company, hold too much power? Market leaders will always have their critics, as well as their cheerleaders – and in this case, the health IT professionals cashing in on Epic jobs are among those doing the cheering. Epic’s customers seem to be cheering too, which speaks to how the company found itself in its current position – as a clear leader in the EHR market.

Have Epic experience? Join HealthITJobs.com today!

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