April 14, 2017
Back in February 2015, electronic health record (EHR) software developer, EPIC, announced that they would be building an app marketplace to complement the company’s EHR software. That day has finally come. EPIC officially launched the App Orchard in January 2016. This is excellent news for hospitals and healthcare providers who require more flexibility with their digital medical records.
App Orchard: What Does It Do?
The App Orchard contains hundreds of public APIs of the EPIC software. This allows third party developers the opportunity to create unique and specialized applications compatible with EPIC to increase the HER program’s functionality and break down data silos between EHR systems. Furthermore, the App Orchard provides a testing environment for these new applications. Developers can finalize their products without the need to support an extensive data center infrastructure of their own.
The access to open APIs isn’t necessarily new for EPIC. The development site, Open.epic.com, has been live and in operation for a while. The difference is that while Open.epic.com offered a way for developers to learn different integration options when creating their applications, the App Orchard goes one step further. The App Orchard hosts a marketplace where developers can display their applications or sell them for the price of their choosing. This gives users much easier access to an entire collection of potential applications in a single place.
App Orchard Functionality
The App Orchard itself will have many of the same functionalities as other successful application marketplaces, such as the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store.
However, despite their similarities, users should not expect an identical experience between the App Orchard and other application marketplaces. In an interview with HealthITAnalytics.com, EPIC’s Senior Vice President of Research and Development, Sumit Rana, explained that while usability is a focus, downloading an app for an EHR program is always going to be more complex than downloading an app to a smart phone. Therefore, users should expect to go through a number of steps before completing a purchase or integrating a tool.
“We want the experience to be as simple as possible, but when you download an app that runs in the enterprise world, it’s rare that a single user can make the decision to implement that software across an organization. The organization typically does want to make sure it’ll work as they expect.”
Developers Are Registering Now
Hundreds of registrants have already signed up for access to EPIC’s new marketplace, and Rana confirms that there is a steady streak of new registrants coming in all the time. The App Orchard presents a new opportunity for hospitals and developers alike to share in the creativity and ingenuity of an open marketplace. Furthermore, this opens the door to custom integrations for specific hospitals and businesses that can then be sold openly on the App Orchard. Keep an eye on the success of this marketplace—it could be the beginning of a much more powerful EHR program for EPIC.
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