It isn’t often an address from a company’s co-founder opens with the “Happy Birthday” song.

That’s what Epic’s User Group Meeting attendees heard Tuesday morning, as CEO Judy Faulkner addressed employees and customers during her annual executive address.

The company is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

Faulkner began her speech by going over Epic’s history as a healthcare software company, with the years being punctuated throughout her presentation with the life stages of Epic’s “twin” – Faulkner’s daughter Shana, who was born the same year the company was founded.

“We’ve come far from 1979,” she said. “Remember the rotary phones, carbon paper and paper (medical) charts?”

Going through the decades, Faulkner spoke about her own computer programming background. She delved into where and when she started, how she had never seen a computer in her life and was given a week to learn how to program, and the way in which the company has innovated, with the patient being the central concern as software was continuously been designed.

That was the main difference between other healthcare software companies and Epic, she said, as they began to create products in the 1980s and 1990s, and it caused them to go in a different direction with their product.

“So Epic had one integrated system … with everything built around the patient,” she said. “I thought, ‘I wonder if it’s because most of the CEOs and founders come from business, and they teach you mergers and acquisitions, going public, and I was from computer science, and what I knew was developing software.’”

After Faulkner’s executive address, company employees shared with UGM attendees some of the software projects they’ve been working on.

One of the main focuses is patient experience, leading with the annual “Cool Stuff Ahead” session.

Part of improving patient experience will include giving MyChart, the consumer app that connects patients to their medical team, the ability for patients to search for specific medical records and to invite their family members to view their health information.

Engineers are making upgrades to software to create consistent experiences between the desktop interface and the mobile app.

Epic is also creating software it expects will change patients’ health care experience, even if it’s not through a direct interaction with medical information. This will be through more efficient visits, community resources and the ability to share medical information with facilities that might not use Epic.

Often, doctors spend a significant amount of time writing notes to be placed in a patient’s file, and Epic is in the middle of software prototypes that, in a few years, would be able to listen in on a conversation between a doctor and a patient and generate a doctor’s note using artificial intelligence.

It’s a part of an initiative to improve patient experience by allowing doctors to spend more time with patients.

Transparency is also a focus of upcoming software, Epic employees said. They’re creating a way for patients to be able to see their out-of-pocket costs when entering their insurance information on their healthcare provider’s website, so medical bills are no longer a surprise.

For users of home health services, new software will be available to on-location nurses so patients can be notified they’re on the way and show how far away they are. Nurses will also be able to use the software to remotely go through appointment checklists.

The company is looking toward other aspects of people’s health, including social and environmental impacts and allowing health care services to work with outside entities to offer additional support to better a person’s health.

Email reporter Kimberly Wethal at and follow her on Twitter @kimberly_wethal.