Community Connect, with the right guidance and support, can be a valuable option for community hospitals and ambulatory systems

The Epic Community Connect program offers hospitals and healthcare organizations the opportunity to leverage Epic’s electronic medical record (EMR) system while maintaining their independence. This program has become a valuable pathway to the Epic platform, particularly for organizations that fall outside the scope of Epic’s traditional target market, such as large, academic, children’s, and safety net institutions.

Community Connect enables community hospitals and provider practices to benefit from Epic’s robust infrastructure without the need to build their own EMR from scratch. It fosters better integration and acts as a technological bridge for the regional continuum of care. The benefits of Community Connect for the affiliated community hospitals are significant:

Enhanced clinical and patient care

  • Improved quality of care through Epic’s extensive clinical resources, including clinical decision support tools, evidence-based guidelines, and patient education materials.
  • Improved information sharing with patients through recognizable features like MyChart, enabling better communication and patient engagement.
  • A unified patient record that connects providers across Epic’s national exchange network, promoting population health management and care coordination, and enabling better follow-up and preventive care.


  • The ability to maintain independence and unique branding while being affiliated with area organizations.
  • Improved recruitment and retention of clinicians through the availability of Epic’s desirable workflows and well-known and respected technology. 


  • Improved efficiency of care through streamlined workflows and eliminating the need to maintain multiple EMR systems. This can help community hospitals to reduce the cost of providing care.
  • Improved financial performance through a reduction in the cost of EMR implementation and maintenance.
  • Enhanced access to vendors and vendor discounts traditionally only enjoyed by large health systems.

While Epic Community Connect offers numerous advantages, it is important to address the challenges that small, rural systems may face when transitioning to the Connect model. These challenges include:

  • The cost of joining Epic Connect may be expensive for community hospitals. Potential Connected affiliates should create a comprehensive total cost of ownership (TCO) model.
  • Concerns regarding the dynamics of the host/affiliate relationship, including integration. Community hospitals may have difficulty integrating their host EMR with other systems, such as their laboratory and radiology systems. Potential Connect affiliates should carefully consider the level of integration landscape that their host provides before joining a program.
  • Potential Connect affiliates may have difficulty getting the support they need from their Connect host or may face constraints of their own availability of knowledgeable resources to guide the transition and support the implementation. Potential Connect affiliates should carefully consider the level of support required compared to the service levels of the host.

Healthlink Advisors serves as an expert partner throughout the entire process, enabling healthcare organizations to navigate the pitfalls and reap the benefits of joining the Epic Community Connect program. To support healthcare organizations throughout their Connect journey, Healthlink Advisors offers its Community Connector program, providing comprehensive guidance and support in targeted areas.

  1. Advisory services to help organizations make informed decisions about joining the Connect program.
  2. Selection assistance to ensure the right approach and partners are chosen.
  3. Implementation planning and support to facilitate a smooth transition and successful integration.
  4. Ongoing support and optimization to address any challenges that may arise post-go-live.

Overall, Community Connect can be a valuable option for community hospitals or ambulatory systems that are looking to improve the quality and efficiency of their care. However, it is important to carefully consider the benefits and potential pitfalls before joining the program. The decision to join a Connect program should focus on creating value and improving patient outcomes within the community. By leveraging the capabilities of Epic and fostering collaboration, healthcare organizations can enhance care continuity, promote better care coordination, and deliver comprehensive electronic health records.