Understanding Options for How to Integrate with Epic EHR

Understanding Options for How to Integrate with Epic EHR

Everywhere you look across the business world, there’s investment in more effective business process management, including automation. With an anticipated CAGR of 11.83% through 2028, this number will nearly double this year’s market, reaching $23.4 billion within that five-year timespan. 

However, the expansion and urgency happening in this area hasn’t fully taken root in patient-facing medical care. Research continually highlights gaps in file and records management and patient processes, with huge delays and even significant percentages of tasks that simply fall through the cracks. This leads to inefficient, unreliable processes and can negatively affect patient care outcomes. 

When medical care teams don’t have automated processes, and easy ways to access and use external insights then the risk of care gaps or opportunities to improve care being missed, including essential diagnostic insights, helpful AI- or ML-powered prompts, and patient care therapy or treatment plans fueled by the latest research. 

This means that third-party apps may fade from sight or be ruled as an unnecessary expense in the next round of budget cuts, regardless of the value they offer clinicians for elevating patient care. 

But what can clinicians—or data analytics providers—do to combat this issue? Clinician-facing apps must meaningfully integrate with Epic EHR. By becoming a meaningful and automatic part of a clinician’s workflow, third-party apps provide more value for everyone: improving access to critical insights, elevating patient care, and streamlining processes, from treatment decisions to billing.

Your Company Needs to Know How to Integrate With Epic EHR

Epic EHR is one of the primary medical records platforms across the United States, and it’s also a big player in the international market. It houses over 250 million patient records, or the records of 78% of US patients. But, like any big and complex data platform, it can be hard for clinicians to use it effectively. 

Related: Transforming Healthcare by Empowering Clinicians with Better EHR Workflow

With dozens of fields, lots of text, and a seemingly endless array of solutions or pages that clinicians need to navigate, providing even basic patient care can be overwhelming. Some of the main challenges users experience include:

  • Multiple solutions and programs: Many people in any business context have experienced this. Clinicians have to review details in a patient electronic health record (EHR), identify key details, copy or memorize them, and open a new app before inputting the details to get helpful insights. Then, provided they received enough insight, they had to navigate back to the EHR and input the details before manually deciding on the next step. This is messy and clumsy.
  • Interactions aren’t optimized: If users have to tab out of the EHR and manually navigate to a new app, they’re going to pick the one they’re most familiar with or that they see first—regardless of whether or not the app is the best choice for a given scenario. This leaves many apps unused, even if they could provide life-saving insights. In fact, an industry research report found that 94% of clinicians say not having easy access to patient-specific insights has affected patients.
  • Surface-level interoperability: Most apps don’t integrate well with Epic EHR. Even when they do, they only facilitate data-level integrations, such as reading and writing data. They don’t inform or adjust the workflow, dynamically assist decision-making, or make the best possible use of data and analytics. 
  • Clinician fatigue and burnout: sub-optimal workflows increase stress. Users have to handle unwieldy interfaces in high-pressure situations and tab through multiple options or tools within a very constrained time frame. Along with the poor care outcomes this can cause for patients, it significantly affects caregivers. They can easily become stressed, rushed, and left without a good structure for supported decision-making. 

This is by no means a unique problem to one specific external analytics solution. But when there’s a wealth of high-quality medical insights available to clinicians but not the most effective access and use of them while working in the EHR, then the utility, value, and sticking power of those valuable insights becomes limited.

How to Integrate with Epic EHR: 3 Approaches

Currently, many users combine between six and twenty different solutions that are integrated with their EHR workflows. Often the workflow for this integration is cumbersome, adding to clinician burnout and fatigue. Companies that directly integrate their applications with Epic can offer a far more cohesive workflow option, increasing both the value of the app and the likelihood that it will be readily used. 

Depending on the type of integration method built into the app, there will be different levels of usability and adoption. Consider these three different levels, ranging from basic accessibility to in-depth workflow enablement.

Method #1. SMART on FHIR Launch: Your App Is Findable But Not Apparent

With this type of integration, companies can make it possible for users to find a button within a drop-down menu within Epic and click this button to launch their app. This requires the physician or end user to tap on a drop-down menu and scroll through apps to find a likely fit for their circumstance or next task. But this entirely manual process creates a subpar workflow. Users need to remember your app, look for it, and open it before they can determine if it offers relevant solutions for a specific problem.


  • Accessing the app does not require manually exiting out of the Epic EHR interface.


  • Users will need to intentionally search out the app.
  • Relevant apps don’t rise to the top.
  • Clinicians often stop searching for or using the buttons because the results are hit-or-miss and the process can feel tedious.

While this approach can lead to better outcomes than no integration at all, it only provides surface-level visibility and assistance

Method #2. The Ribbon: Your App Is Visible But Not Dynamic or Actionable

This type of integration is best for only displaying insights. Ribbons highlighting relevant app insights or patient-specific recommendations automatically pop up on the screen. 

This may direct clinicians toward apps that provide the most value in different situations, and they can then tap through for more insights or use the ribbon’s content to make their decision. However, the decisions or suggestions in the prompt are not an actionable button—users will need to manually enter the details and complete the next steps.


  • The app interacts with the EHR to provide suggestions or insights.
  • Apps become more prominent when relevant.


  • content needs to be manually written into the EHR once the clinician approves of the content.

Method #3. Decision Workflow: Your App Plays an Active Role in How Decisions Are Made

Today’s integration capabilities invite third-party tools to connect bi-directionally with a central platform. When apps become an integrated part of the workflow, they empower clinicians and the entire care team to transform clinical outcomes and financial results. Insights to improve care and reimbursement are available seamlessly in the EHR workflow of the care team. 

Related: EHR Checklist

When the user approves or chooses an option, the resulting information can be automatically written into the EHR, and users simply move to the insight, recommendation, or other value-added activities to deliver better care.


  • The workflow becomes more dynamic: clinicians use actionable insights, 
  • Easier user access to developments powered by analytics, AI, ML, and evolving research.
  • There is no manual double data entry, reducing the risk of errors, gaps, and contradictions.
  • Users automatically receive relevant insights and suggestions without having to search for them.
  • The insights can be displayed in different forms like badges, ribbons, and sidebars—and expanded to take up more of the screen.
  • Users spend less time manually searching for individual apps.
  • Patients receive better, faster care, and their EHRs contain more accurate and comprehensive insights.

Make Your App Part of Every Clinician’s Automatic EHR Workflow With Insiteflow

Today’s healthcare analytics companies are creating tools that promise immense value to patients, professionals, and administrative organizations. But those tools are only useful when people can easily and automatically access their value. Insiteflow enables comprehensive EHR decision workflow interoperability for better user experiences and better patient outcomes. Request a demo and see how you can maximize your app’s potential with dynamic integration.