In February of 2020, I was given the opportunity to form a brand-new team that would be working on a new strategic initiative at Foundation Medicine, a pioneer in molecular profiling for cancer. This project would allow doctors to order our molecular profiling tests directly from the electronic medical record (EMR) systems that they are familiar with. In August of 2021, Foundation Medicine announced a partnership with Epic, the most widely-used EMR vendor in the United States, to integrate its comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) and other testing services with Epic’s electronic EMR system. With over 250 million patients with an existing record in Epic, as well as 50% of Foundation Medicine’s ordering providers and 35% of U.S. oncologists using Epic, the intent of this integration was to help healthcare providers more easily order Foundation Medicine tests, review test results, and give more patients access to targeted treatment options.
This integration will enable clinical teams to place orders for Foundation Medicine’s CGP tests and receive and view results directly within their existing workflow in Epic’s EMR. With this approach, Foundation Medicine can offer a single integration to the network, instead of bespoke connectors to individual institutions. This type of integration also simplifies the onboarding of new customers. All of the software and configurations required to send and receive an order are delivered as part of the existing Epic update distribution model. All the customer needs to do is enable the functionality when they are ready.
On June 8, 2022, Foundation Medicine officially launched our first integration with a customer site using Epic, and additional accounts have already begun to integrate with Foundation Medicine, and more will continue to integrate in the coming months.
This project allowed us to problem solve and figure out how to integrate with customer EMRs in a holistic way. The goal was first and foremost to connect Foundation Medicine to Epic. However, in the process, we also were working to create a framework to allow other EMR vendor integrations to be simplified and to shorten the implementation time from years to months.
The biggest challenge was how to translate Foundation Medicine’s current operational flows on orders and results to a structured model that could be implemented in an EMR system. Our order and result practices are specific to Foundation Medicine and have evolved over time. EMR systems implement generic and simplified workflows that can handle both simple diagnostic tests, like a blood test, and complex assays like our NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) tests. In addition, EMR systems typically allow you to create order forms and workflows. Finally, some of our processes to solve order problems, data requirements and result delivery are very complex, and this integration required a lot of creativity, problem solving and cross-functional collaboration.
We also had to figure out how to balance the work we were doing to integrate with Epic, and the work that we would need to reuse for other integrations. We were able to accomplish this goal by carefully crafting our integration platform so that it can continue to serve us in the future.
I asked some of my colleagues on the Epic Integration team to describe some of the reasons they chose to come to work at Foundation Medicine.
Vijay – Principal Software Engineer
“I had been working in the healthcare industry in the past and was looking for a company in a similar space. What attracted me to Foundation Medicine is its global presence and that it’s headquartered here in Boston. I was also impressed by the company’s culture and the people during the interview process. What is cool about working for Foundation Medicine is collaborating with friendly and helpful people. It’s a great feeling to know our work impacts people’s lives in a positive way.”
Paul – Senior Software Engineer
“I was attracted to Foundation Medicine because of our mission to transform cancer care. The things I like most about the company are the work, the people and the culture. My work is interesting, meaningful and challenging. The people I've met are friendly, helpful and good at what they do. The culture at Foundation Medicine fosters a sense of value and I feel appreciated working here”
Mark – Software Engineer III
“Foundation Medicine attracted me with the fact that they help cancer patients navigate their diagnosis and provide answers that could lead to personalized treatment options. I have always worked in development within the medical industry and many of my good former coworkers led me to believe I would like it here. Starting on a new team and on a new project here at Foundation Medicine has been a blast. Answering the unknowns and developing a robust system that will hopefully stand the test of time has been very rewarding.”
Philip – Software Developer Engineer in Test
“I’ve worked in the healthcare search space for five years. I wanted to join Foundation Medicine because of the interesting work and mission. I like the problem solving involved with the job, the continual learning, and working with the team”
As we look ahead to the future, we are excited to finalize this new integration platform. Our goal is to complete all the designed functionality beyond our work specific to Epic, and systematically move all our other integrations to this new model.
The team will also be supporting all the other software development teams as they collaborate to build the different modules and functionality of the entire platform and migrate existing integrations to the new code. We are all working together with the end goal of enabling healthcare providers to more easily order Foundation Medicine tests and bring precision cancer care to more patients around the globe.