A Good Question: What Would Epic Be Worth, And Does It Matter?

Posted on March 19, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Few would argue that Epic is one of the two or three most visible enterprise EMR vendors on the market today. There’s little doubt that these days, Epic is shortlisted when hospitals plan an EMR rollout, alongside of giants like GE and Cerner.

It’s hard to imagine that Epic isn’t in a sweet financial position, practically stuffing warehouses full of the revenue they’re generating in this pivotal period of HIT history. (For a sense of the scale involved, bear in mind that Kaiser Permanente’s reportedly $4 billion to $6 billion EMR rollout was an Epic installation.)

That being said, we really don’t know. Why? Well, while Cerner and GE and McKesson are public companies, Epic remains privately held. Looked at another way, health systems that sink half a billion dollars over five years to implement Epic know far less about its financial situation than they would about Cerner’s.

So, maybe I’m wandering out on a limb here, but if I were a big health system, wouldn’t it be a little bit concerning not to know some details on how robust the company’s financial picture is? Does it really make sense, despite its strong reputation and impressive customer list, to spend a staggering sum on Epic without some third-party analysis of its prospects?

After all, when you spend the kind of money health systems are spending, that vendor becomes an incredibly important partner. But if the vendor’s not open to Wall Street scrutiny , it might get away with fibbing about its ability to deliver.

Mind you, I’m not saying that health systems that go with Epic — or any other privately-held vendor — are behaving irresponsibly. It’s just that in this climate, more information can’t hurt.

P.S.: I began thinking about this when I saw a question (posted on Quora.com) asking what Epic would be worth if it went public. Could the poster know something we don’t?