This is another KLAS “first,” and I love firsts. Historically, we have not broken out the two different Epic customer experiences, and so providers looking at Epic scores for EpicCare ambulatory would see only a combined score of both directly-contracted and Community Connect customers. To convey the most accurate picture, we knew that we needed to break out those experiences. The Epic Ambulatory 2020-Community Connect report fills this substantial gap in KLAS data.
In addition to providing increased visibility into others’ experience, the report highlights some fundamental questions. For example, a lot of ambulatory providers don’t know they have the option to contract directly with Epic. And if providers are looking at the Community Connect model as compared to a different vendor’s EMR, they can see a clearer picture of what they will be getting with Community. These providers have likely heard about the full Epic experience from their colleagues, but can they expect to get that same experience, or a watered-down, diluted experience? Our hope is that with this information in hand, providers can more accurately compare Epic with the other vendors they’re considering for their EMR solution.
Understanding the Two Models
Fundamentally, Epic’s model is such that it will only contract with ambulatory organizations if they exceed 200,000 patient visits per year. If an organization has fewer visits than that, they currently do not have the option to contract directly with Epic.
Instead, ambulatory practices not meeting this metric can use Epic only through the Community Connect model. This model relies on a local host organization — typically an acute care organization that offers Epic licenses to others. The key difference is in who manages the relationship. Directly contracted customers work solely with Epic; but with the Community Connect model, the acute care health system, or IDN, owns the primary relationship with the ambulatory organization.
The Overall Difference in Performance
As part of the Community Connect relationship, the host organization manages interactions like service and support, implementation, and training. While Epic will sometimes step in and do some things directly for implementation or other pieces, the bulk of managing the relationship lands on the originating Epic customer. Based on the data, we know this is a big reason as to why the customer experience between these two options varies across the board.
When we first began our research, we hypothesized that the Community Connect experience would score lower, but we did not guess that it would be around 13 points lower, which KLAS considers a large gap. However, these lower scores still place Community Connect solidly in the middle of the pack for ambulatory EMRs.
Epic is very seriously considering the idea that they need to be more hands-on with Community Connect. Given the opportunity to review the findings, they were not comfortable with the reality that some Epic customers are dealing with a lesser experience. Though we don’t yet know specifics, Epic has communicated that they will likely implement some changes on their end to manage those relationships. What that looks like in the future and how well it works, only time and more provider feedback will tell.
If you are an ambulatory provider exploring these Epic options versus other EMRs, or, if you’ve ever wondered whether Epic is the right vendor for you in either a Community Connect or direct-contract situation, take a look at this report.