The Software Developer’s Guide to Epic EHR

Learn the ins and outs of software development for the Epic EHR platform, integrating with Epic EHR, and developing for the Epic App Orchard.

Understanding Epic EHR

What is an EHR system?

Think of an electronic health record (EHR) system as the “operating system” for a hospital. An EHR is responsible for managing patient data and clinical information, as well as providing a user interface for doctors and patients to interact with their data.

Understanding Epic software development is becoming a prerequisite for building modern healthcare experiences.EHR systems were first introduced in the 1970’s, but weren’t widely adopted until the mid-2000’s. Today there are dozens of specialized EHRs catering to individual types of doctors and practices, made by companies like Epic, Cerner, eClinicalWorks, and Meditech. If you see a healthcare provider, there’s a good chance the information about your visit will be stored and managed in an EHR.

What is Epic EHR?

Epic EHR is one of the most popular electronic health record (EHR) systems in the world. It’s the central repository for clinical and patient data at all 20 of the top-ranked health systems in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Reports, as well as a wide variety of hospital systems, specialist groups, and provider networks. Epic’s EHR systems are responsible for managing 50% of all patient records in the United States.

Epic released its first inpatient hospital EMR in the 1990s and saw rapid growth during the widespread adoption of electronic health records in the mid-2000s. Today, Epic’s EHR is made up of multiple central databases as well as dozens of individual Epic modules focused on specific healthcare specialties or functions.

Software Development in Epic EHR

If you’re designing or developing software for the healthcare or hospital market, there’s a good chance you’ll need to work with patient information. That means learning how to make your software play nice with the Epic EHR (and other EHR systems).

(Psst. We’ve built a wide variety of custom software for Epic EHR systems. If you have questions, contact us to see how we can help.)

How do you build software for Epic EHR systems?

Software development for Epic EHR systems is uniquely challenging and requires a considerable degree of specialized knowledge. Epic customizes each implementation to the specific needs of its customers, so there is no real “default” Epic configuration. That means software from one Epic installation can’t be easily ported to other installations without additional customization and implementation work.

Many health systems and provider networks develop their own software for use within their Epic EHR system. Epic itself may also provide custom software or features for individual customers. There are also a variety of specialized software agencies and consultants that can develop software for the Epic EHR.

How do you integrate software with Epic EHR?

There are a variety of ways to integrate existing software with Epic EHR installations, including the Epic App Orchard “app store” and a variety of specialized middleware like Datica and Redox. However, Epic’s primary emphasis is on stability and security for its customers and end users, not healthcare interoperability and third-party integration. This makes integration with Epic EHRs another unique challenge.

How do you get certified for Epic EHR?

There’s good news and bad news when it comes to Epic EHR certification. The bad news is that Epic certification is only available to Epic customers and their employees. The good news is that you don’t actually need an Epic certification to develop or integrate software with Epic EHR. In fact, most Epic certifications are focused on using specific Epic modules and features.

Additional Epic & Digital Health Resources

Arcweb specializes in digital health technology, including Epic integration and custom software development. We’ve gathered a variety of resources to share some of what we’ve learned.

In-Depth Guides for Software Developers

App Orchard Conference Recaps

The App Orchard Conference is an annual gathering of software developers, product managers, and others working within Epic’s App Orchard program. It’s held every year in the fall. Check out our App Orchard conference guides to learn what you missed in past years.

Other Digital Health Resources

Healthcare Innovation

Digital Health News

Event Guides

Note: Epic and App Orchard are trademarks of Epic Systems Corporation.