Carequality recently announced the publication of the Carequality Trust Principles, the policy foundation for connecting health data sharing networks throughout the United States. Carequality, a Healtheway initiative, is a public-private collaborative supporting nationwide HIT interoperability to accomplish in health care what the telecommunications industry did to link cell phone networks.
"To reach our end goal of broad-based, interoperable exchange across network, vendor, and geographic boundaries, the community first has to agree on the foundational principles," says Dave Cassel, Carequality director. "It's essential that these principles represent broad, multistakeholder consensus, because otherwise, they won't engender trust among widespread exchange partners."
The Carequality community that has come together to develop and implement the principles includes representatives from over 70 organizations from across the health care ecosystem. Providers, physicians, consumers, networks, vendors, government agencies, payers, behavioral health, long term care, hospice and home care, and research are among those represented.
Those implementing the Carequality framework agree to legal terms that operationalize the Trust Principles, which include the following:
• HIPAA Compliance: All participants agree to implement HIPAA-compliant security and privacy practices, even if they are not otherwise subject to HIPAA requirements.
• Nondiscrimination: Carequality implementers will not discriminate against other Carequality implementers to block interoperability.
• Cooperation: Carequality implementers agree to cooperate with all other Carequality members to address connectivity issues, differences in standards interpretation, and resolution of disputes.
• Transparency: Carequality implementers will make their information handling practices transparent and easily available to the public.
• Acceptable Use: All members agree that they will deploy connectivity through Carequality only for the purposes permitted (for example, treatment) in the Carequality Implementation Guide governing each use case.
• Local Autonomy: Carequality implementers may honor their own local rules so long as they are applied consistently and do not unfairly or unreasonably limit interoperability.
The full set of Carequality Trust Principles are available on the Carequality website at http://healthewayinc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Carequality_Principles-of-Trust_Final_Carequality-template.pdf.
"It was great to see all of the varied players working closely with each other to achieve a common goal," says Marc Chasin, MD, CIO of St. Luke's Health System in Boise, Idaho, who chaired Carequality's Trust Framework Work Group. "We needed to balance a lot of different viewpoints, and it worked because in the end, we were all there to advance interoperability and improve patient care."
Adopting the Trust Principles is the first major step in making exchange across data sharing networks an operational reality. "In order for us to collectively eliminate the silos that have long-separated physical health from behavioral health care and organization from organization, we need an agreed upon framework of defining standards," says Netsmart Executive Vice President of Corporate Development Kevin Scalia. "As an advocate in the behavioral health community, Netsmart is pleased to be a part of this effort. It will give us a secure, trusted process for quickly connecting to a large number of physical health providers, enabling all involved to provide more informed, coordinated care for a vulnerable population."
"The Carequality community saw the opportunity to accelerate the pace of interoperability by focusing on collaboration among networks," says Mariann Yeager, Healtheway's CEO. "Establishing trusted exchange across data sharing networks will be the cornerstone for our efforts moving forward. With trust, together we succeed."