What Will Take Down the Epocrates Monopoly?

Posted on August 22, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The most popular mobile health app for medical professionals is far and away Epocrates. I haven’t seen the latest numbers on Epocrates physician install base, but they have what I consider a pretty solid monopoly when it comes to drug information on a mobile device. Almost every doctors has Epocrates, uses it, and can’t imagine life without the information Epocrates provides.

Consider Epocrates dominance in this area, it made me start to wonder what changes could occur that could cause Epocrates to fall from its pedestal. Here are just a few thoughts on what could diminish Epocrates powerful market presence.

Drug Information Integrated with the EHR – If I were Epocrates, this would be my biggest concern. If I’m a doctor seeing a patient, I’m certain to have my EHR close by. If I can find the information Epocrates right in my EHR, then why would I open up another device to find the same information which is just a click away? The answer is that you wouldn’t. The good news for Epocrates is that it will take a while for EHR vendors to integrate this info. EHR companies are a bit distracted by something called meaningful use right now.

No iPad App – Yes, you can use the regular iPhone optimized Epocrates app on the iPad, but how is it possible that Epocrates has missed out on not creating an iPad optimized version? Considering physicians deep love of the iPad this is crazy to consider. Imagine the possibilities with so much more screen real estate as well. What a missed opportunity for Epocrates.

Lack of Epocrates Focus – The best example of Epocrates lack of focus was the Epocrates EHR. They first announced the Epocrates EHR at HIMSS 2010. Almost 2 years later and right after the official launch of their EHR, they shutdown the Epocrates EHR. Distractions like creating an EHR is an example of how Epocrates lack of focus could lead to issues in their core business.

Public Company – Yes, Epocrates is now a public company (EPOC:NASDAQ). Will being a public company cause issues with Epocrates? The founder is already gone and working at Doximity. We’ll see how Epocrates does with the challenges of being a publicly traded company.

Don’t misunderstand me. Epocrates is still well positioned in the medical space. However, I think there are opportunities for entrepreneurial companies to cut into Epocrates current monopoly.

One thing I do wonder is why Epocrates hasn’t come out with some killer APIs for their drug information. Epocrates has all of the info, and EHR companies would love to have that info integrates into their EHR. Seems like the perfect marriage. I expect the answer is that Epocrates doesn’t have the expertise to execute on the API front.