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Cerner Responds to Epic's CommonWell Dig

March 18, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Cerner, the large electronic health record (EHR) vendor based in Kansas City, Mo., responded to comments made by its chief rival, Epic Systems (Verona, Wisc.), during a hearing on health IT about the trade group, of which the former is heavily involved.
During the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health Education Labor & Pensions' (HELP) hearing this week on the effectiveness of the meaningful use program, Epic's Peter DeVault commented on why the company hadn't joined CommonWell, the nonprofit trade group made up of many of Epic’s EHR vendor competitors aiming to create a national patient identifier. Cerner is one of the founding companies of CommonWell. 
DeVault said joining CommonWell, which he called an “aspiring” network, would have cost millions and they would have had to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA), which he suggested meant they planned on selling data downstream. Instead, he vouched for CareEquality, another interoperability effort from a nonprofit group.
In response to those comments, Cerner representatives sent out a press release decrying DeVault's stance on CommonWell: 
"Today’s rhetoric is a slap in the face to many parties working to advance interoperability. It was discouraging to hear more potshots and false statements when it’s clear there is real work to be done. We’re committed to CommonWell as a practical, market-led way to achieve meaningful interoperability."
When CommonWell was announced at HIMSS 2013, Epic representatives lashed out at what they deemed as a competitive move against them. Epic CEO Judy Faulkner said they were not aware of the group and the company's COO Carl Dvorak called it a commercial endeavor.
A CommonWell representative reached out to Healthcare Informatics to respond to DeVault's "inaccurate" comments: 
“CommonWell was conceived to foster collaboration among health IT stakeholders because we believe it’s the only way to achieve nationwide interoperability. We are committed to openness and transparency. Accordingly we publish our services and use case specifications, along with our nominal membership and service fees on our website for everyone to see.”

Jonathan Bush, CEO of athenahealth, another member of CommonWell, had this to say on Twitter referring to Epic Systems CEO Judith Faulkner:


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