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In the business of selling record-keeping software to hospitals, Epic Systems is breaking away from the pack.

The Wisconsin-based company’s contracts now account for nearly half the nation’s hospital beds, and in recent months it has jumped out to a commanding lead over No. 2 Oracle Cerner, taking away dozens of customers. More than 253 million Americans, or 77% of the population, are estimated to now have data in the company’s software.


That runaway success has made Epic — and the ever-growing list of tools it sells or builds for its clients — the easy choice for countless hospitals that keep records in its tightly controlled universe. But the company is now approaching a crucial crossroads. In January, federal rules designed to create a kind of interstate system for health data will finally go into full effect, creating new opportunities for researchers and app developers whose ambitions have been thwarted by Epic’s lock on large hospitals and their IT systems.

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