Billionaire Beat: Epic Systems Founder-CEO Judy Faulkner Wields Great Power And Responsibility In Healthcare IT

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for accelerated digitization across the healthcare sector, and Epic Systems, a market-leading provider of electronic medical record (EMR) software, is among the beneficiaries. Since founding Epic in 1979, CEO Judy Faulkner has helmed the company, which currently controls over 25% of the EMR software market.

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Now, with 40 years at the top of its industry, Faulkner’s company remains a privately-held enterprise—Epic has never been on either side of acquisition, staying homegrown and independent. While rival healthcare IT company Cerner Corporation and others are bolstered by public investors, Faulkner has kept Epic off the market, rebuffing advances by GE and others. Building the company from her basement to the top of her industry, she has also amassed a personal fortune of over $5 billion—and a spot on Forbes’ “Power Women 2020” list. Despite her company’s tremendous success, Faulkner strives to improve and evolve Epic, as the healthcare industry often changes rapidly and without warning.

In keeping her company private, Faulkner hopes to preserve Epic’s company culture, where both customers and employees are held in the highest esteem. However, the company received an unfavorable reaction when it insisted that remote employees return to the office in August 2020, months before the release of a COVID vaccine. Although the company quickly reversed its decision (allowing employees to work remotely into 2021), its reputation for a positive employee environment took a blow. Faulkner’s idealistic approach to business requires learning from mistakes, including finding a way to sustain her company’s culture remotely. As the company has grown amid the continuing public health crisis, the CEO was forced to reimagine internal collaboration to meet the demands of its workforce. Now, virtual team-lead meetings are mandatory and regularly scheduled.

While the company’s internal response to the coronavirus pandemic received initial criticism, Epic has led the endeavor of data sharing among healthcare providers and researchers. In May 2020, it launched the Epic Health Research Network, a communications portal aimed at connecting healthcare systems and sharing new medical observations and information. Faulkner is doubling her workforce’s efforts as well, assigning two teams (consisting of data scientists, software developers, and more) to address emerging medical issues.

Epic has access to over 200 million patient EMRs in the U.S., and Faulkner intends to make professional information as sharable as possible, saving more lives as a result. Personally, the billionaire CEO is one of many who have committed to Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, promising to posthumously donate most of her fortune to charity. As long as she retains control of Epic, she remains an influential figure in the future of healthcare technology, and with that power comes the responsibility to continue to keep the company’s employees safe, happy, and productive.