Recapping UGM 2019

With a decked out campus and Epic staff including CEO Judy Faulkner dressed in 70's attire, Epic celebrated its 40th anniversary with the Summer of '79 UGM theme. The conference looked back on the tech giant's humble beginnings, while strategizing the future of healthcare. Today, we're breaking down five key takeaways from the groovy week in Verona for health IT leaders.

  1. Quarterly updates– Last year at UGM, Epic announced a switch to quarterly updates, and that focus continued this year. Over 200 Epic client healthcare organizations have performed at least one quarterly update over the past year. The latest update, August 2019, just came out (August 5) with the next one coming up fast (November 4). Many sessions focused on the advantages for health systems to stay up-to-date on the latest releases.

  2. Patient visits in the future– During the General Session, Faulkner and other Epic leadership highlighted exciting vendor news to come. The future of Epic was revealed in a live demo as a no clicks, no keystrokes, 100-percent voice recognition patient visit, where the patient-physician connection is helped, not hindered by technology. The demonstration accompanied a caveat that full technology deployment is still 3-5 years away but very possible.

  3. Cosmos– The General Session also revealed significant progress with Cosmos, a massive big data healthcare research network for evidenced based medicine. Cosmos already hosts 7.7 million patients' data marks. The goal of the initiative is to reach 20 million patients with high-quality data before releasing research to be readily available at physicians' fingertips at the time of patient visits. Faulkner reiterated that with Cosmos in play, the possibilities are endless. Cosmos even aggregates de-identified patient information for rare conditions, where traditionally, large enough sample sizes do not exist as a basis for medical decision making.

  4. Data blocking rules– As a follow up to continued focus on the 21st Century Cures Act, in a discussion on information blocking versus privacy violation, Faulkner shared her stance for industry regulation: 1. Limit the scope to USCDI and relevant financial data; 2. Define a limited number of APIs; and 3. Don't require health systems or EHR developers to build APIs if none exist.

  5. MyChart app updates– Several sessions focused on current and upcoming software tweaks for better hospital front-end and business office efficiency. Upgrades to the MyChart app are coming, including patient mobile pay, appointment scheduling and care cost estimates. When patients' appointments are booked, through the app, patients can upload an image of their insurance cards to streamline onboarding processes.

The Stoltenberg team commends Epic for its unprecedented advancements for healthcare over the last four decades. For additional UGM session recaps, check out The Wisconsin State Journal's highlights. Stay tuned for more health IT leadership insights.