May 3, 2021

Cerner vs. Epic: Comparing The Biggest EHR Vendors

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Tags: Medical

If you work in healthcare, you’ve heard of Cerner and Epic. Combined, these EHR vendors own 55 percent of the market share for acute care hospitals in the United States. That percentage goes even higher when you narrow in on the 500+ bed hospital market.

These are big, costly systems, so there’s little room for forgiveness when it comes to choosing the one your organization will use. Contracts frequently run into the millions—even billions—of dollars, and implementing the software itself can take anywhere from six months to over a year, not to mention the time it takes staff to learn the new system.

This article will help you choose with confidence, but we can help take even more pressure off this decision. Use our Product Selection Tool to request a free, personalized shortlist of the best EHR-EMR software for you. We’ll ask a few questions to determine your needs and then send you five systems that meet them the best.

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Table of contents

  1. Top EHR systems
  2. Major differences between Cerner and Epic
  3. Ease of use
  4. Interoperability in Cerner vs. Epic
  5. How Cerner and Epic have responded to EHR innovations
  6. How to request software recommendations from TechnologyAdvice

Top EHR systems

While Cerner and Epic are two of the most recognizable names in the EHR software space, they aren’t the only options. To help you find the right tools for your practice, here’s a quick list of the top EHR systems.

1 DrChrono

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DrChrono’s iPad and iPhone compatible EHR and medical billing platform allows users to manage patient intake, clinical charting, billing, and revenue cycle management. It includes customizable medical forms, e-prescribing, scheduling tools, real-time patient eligibility checks, and a patient portal. The DrChrono App Directory also offers a multitude of apps and a medical API for healthcare app developers. Providers can use Free Draw function to annotate on diagrams, x-rays or other files.

Learn more about DrChrono

2 Kareo

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Kareo offers medical practices a cloud-based electronic health record solution paired with award-winning practice and revenue cycle management. Kareo EHR is designed for use by physicians in an outpatient setting and is qualified to help medical practices earn Meaningful Use attestation. The appeal lies in its affordability, usefulness, and mobile capabilities. Kareo EHR includes dynamic patient, document, and medication management functions.

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3 AdvancedMD

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AdvancedMD is a leading software solution for private practices. Fully integrated EHR, medical billing, and patient experience tools help you run your entire practice from a single cloud-based platform. Say goodbye to cross-system comparisons and data discrepancies, because the AdvancedMD family of products is designed to pass information seamlessly between your EHR, billing and telemedicine systems. AdvancedMD products are designed by medical professionals, for medical professionals.

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4 Athenahealth

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athenahealth is a medical solutions company that provides cloud-based practice management and electronic health record (EHR) management services to hospitals, large practices, and small practices. athenahealth’s athenaClinicals EHR solution helps medical practices stay compliant with privacy regulations, reduce errors and boost efficiency. This program adapts to user work styles and preferences, motivating quick adoption practice-wide.

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5 Carecloud

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CareCloud provides cloud-based software and services for the healthcare industry. They offer EHR, revenue cycle, and practice management solutions that are designed to help practices increase their quality of patient care while maximizing profitability. CareCloud provides solutions to small and large practices, hospitals, and other organizations in a wide range of specialties.CareCloud offers Charts, an intuitive electronic health records solution built for healthcare providers.

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6 Cerner

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Cerner provides EHR solutions to a wide variety of medical practices. Cerner’s Ambulatory EHR is ideal for many practice types including group medical clinics, specialty practices, and urgent care centers. This program ensures compliance with HIPAA regulations while reducing errors and enhancing efficiency. This program’s key features include a user-friendly dashboard that streamlines workflow, provides secure access to records via mobile devices, and a convenient “Chart Search” function.

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7 Epic

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Epic’s EpicCare Ambulatory EMR platform is ideal for use by large hospital systems and multi-location practices. This EMR solution includes an intuitive “Smart Software” feature used to guide actions and suggest corrections. Epic’s EMR solutions work well for hospital systems seeking an efficient, intuitive, and secure method of managing electronic medical records. This platform can be personalized and includes filtering tools designed to make the process of chart review more efficient.

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8 WebPT

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WebPT makes it easy for therapy professionals to transition from paper and outdated software to a user-friendly, cloud-based solution. With WebPT, therapists and front office staff have access to patients’ medical records from any web-enabled device. In addition to documentation, WebPT offers a front office package that includes the tools necessary to run an organized clinic, including a multiuser scheduler with appointment reminders and the ability to upload external patient documents.

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9 Nextgen Healthcare

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NextGen® EHR solutions meet the needs of ambulatory practices of all sizes by helping users coordinate patient care, while complying with healthcare reform demands such as the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), population health, and other value-based care requirements. NextGen® Enterprise EHR built for large practices delivers a fully integrated, scalable system that helps clients achieve interoperability, patient engagement, regulatory compliance, and value-based care delivery.

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10 Practice Fusion

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Practice Fusion provides electronic health record (EHR) solutions for small practices, large medical groups, non-profits, and clinics. Practice Fusion’s fully functional EHR is free thanks to ad support, although a premium version may be purchased to remove the ads. Practice Fusion’s comprehensive platform includes e-Prescribing, charting, scheduling, testing, billing, and referral management for physicians in any specialty.

Learn more about Practice Fusion

Major differences between Cerner and Epic

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Cerner and Epic are both makers of health information technology and electronic health record (EHR) software, but they serve organizations of different sizes and offer vastly different workflow experiences. The size and nature of your organization should therefore be a major factor in deciding which solution to go with.

Both vendors offer cloud-based software solutions for acute and ambulatory care, though Cerner is the far more popular choice for ambulatory care and clinicals. When it comes to larger healthcare organizations, most healthcare providers go with Epic. Neither vendor discloses pricing information publicly, but news about contract deal sizes seems to indicate that Epic is slightly more expensive than Cerner, though this also depends on how well you plan implementation.

For example, Becker’s Hospital Review reports that after University of Illinois Health sent out an RFP for a new health records system, it received a bid of $60.5 million from Cerner and a proposal of $62 million from Epic. For a different RFP, Cerner won a $10 billion contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, this grew into a $16 billion contract in March 2018 after more considerations about implementation, maintenance, management, and rollout were made.

In terms of software solutions offered, you’ll find both systems to be fairly similar. They both offer interoperability, revenue cycle management, population health management, mobile access, telehealth, and artificial intelligence.

CRM
Consulting
Dental
Real-time Data
Cerner EHR logo.

Cerner

No symbol.

No

Green checkmark for yes.

Yes

No symbol.

No

Green checkmark for yes.

Yes

Epic EHR logo.

Epic

Green checkmark for yes.

Yes

No symbol.

No

Green checkmark for yes.

Yes

No symbol.

No

 

 

Cerner and Epic also offer services for implementation, training, IT, and support, to name a few.

Ease of use

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Screenshot of the user interface in Cerner EHR.

Cerner (pictured above) offers a well-designed graphical user interface (GUI), but this doesn’t necessarily translate to good ease of use. Many users report long, repetitive workflows for even simple tasks with many users saying the system is not intuitive to use. While you could certainly do worse when looking for a usable EHR, Cerner will still require a decent amount of training before staff feel comfortable working in it.

A screenshot of the user interface in Epic EHR.

Epic (pictured above) may not be as aesthetically pleasing as Cerner, but many users report good ease of use. This EHR is intuitive, so staff are usually able to figure out how to perform tasks without having to go through extensive training. Built-in shortcuts speed up work even more, though the number of on-screen functions at any given time can feel a bit overwhelming at first.

Also read: What Doctors Want From Medical Technology

Interoperability in Cerner vs. Epic

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Interoperability, the ability for the system to share information with other software, should be a key consideration when choosing between Cerner and Epic. Here’s how both systems stack up when it comes to sharing patient data.

Cerner

Cerner enables interoperability in several different ways. The first and perhaps most well-known is through CommonWell Health Alliance, a not-for-profit industry trade association that Cerner co-founded along with six other competitors. CommonWell Health Alliance provides a set of standards and policies that make it easier for members to share and access patient data.

Additionally, Cerner provides Cerner Ignite APIs to let healthcare organizations integrate third-party apps with the EHR. Reference Lab Network lets providers connect to multiple acute and reference labs without having to make connections with every single lab. Later this year, Cerner plans to unveil Seamless Exchange, a new innovation to interoperability in the platform.

Also read: 5 Cerner EHR Competitors for Hospitals and Small Practices

Epic

Epic allows for interoperability in three different ways. First, you can connect to the Carequality network, a public-private network that connects healthcare providers from all over the United States. Another way is the EpicCare Link, which lets non-Epic users view information about patients from an Epic user. Think of it like the shareable collaboration links Google Drive and Dropbox utilize. Share Everywhere is a third interoperability feature that lets patients share their own health information with outside providers. This allows providers to see patient information without connecting to Epic through an EHR.

How Cerner and Epic have responded to EHR innovations

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The COVID-19 pandemic introduced some major innovative needs for both the healthcare industry as a whole and EHR systems. Take a look at how Cerner and Epic have responded to these challenges.

Telehealth

With limits placed on how many people could gather indoors, practices had to limit what they could see patients for in-office. However, people didn’t stop needing to see doctors, so clinics had to find creative ways to help their patients. Telemedicine allowed doctors to safely examine their patients while offering a more accessible (and possibly cheaper) option for people to take advantage of post-COVID.

Cerner collaborated with Amwell, a telehealth company, to help their clients schedule, conduct, and chart telehealth appointments. Additionally, they’re beginning to offer digital care plans to mitigate the workloads their practices are facing. These plans help patients self-monitor their symptoms and automatically identify patients that need a physician to intervene.

Epic embedded a new telemedicine platform into its system, allowing physicians to connect with patients right from the EHR. By adding the service to their system, Epic has made it easier for doctors to view patient history and search symptoms while video-chatting with their patients.

User-friendly patient portals

Limits on in-person groups also made it more difficult for patients to schedule appointments and get information over the phone. Because of this, doctors’ offices and hospitals needed patient portals that were easier for their clients to use. Moving forward, these new patient portals make it easier for patients to request prescription renewals, schedule appointments, and ask their doctor follow-up questions.

Cerner’s patient portal includes a secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging application where patients can safely chat with their doctors to ask questions and ensure they’re following the right steps in their care plan. The system also enables online prescription refills and allows patients to schedule virtual appointments.

Epic’s patient portal not only allows patients to schedule appointments and view their medical records securely, but they can also get information on what certain procedures might cost them. The patient portal supports virtual consultation scheduling as well.

Work balance

As clinics and hospitals become busier, doctors are spending more time in front of their computers and less time with patients. Many practices look to their EHR systems to help them rebalance their time and reduce burnout.

Cerner’s system improves the efficiency of the communication between clinical and billing teams to optimize billing and claims processes. The platform also includes AI-enabled workflows to optimize charting and other behind-the-scenes processes and allow doctors to spend more time with their patients.

Epic used to include alerts for everything, but they’ve since worked on streamlining their platform to keep from overloading doctors with alerts and pop-ups. The system helps doctors optimize their workflows to improve their work-life balance.

How to request software recommendations from TechnologyAdvice

Typically, Cerner is more attractive for smaller clinics and hospitals due to the services they offer in IT and implementation management. Larger hospitals tend to prefer Epic because it usually takes less training to get started with. Even so, each practice is unique and both have features that would be appealing to clinics of any size.

If you’re still not convinced whether Cerner or Epic is right for you, we can save you hours on researching other vendors. Use the Product Selection Tool on our website to request a free, personalized shortlist of the best EMR-EHR software for you. We’ll ask a few questions to identify your biggest needs and then match you with the vendors that will work best.