Nationwide health data sharing takes another leap forward as the early adopters of Carequality announced they've made it easier to exchange data between different EHR systems, record locator services (RLS), and health information exchanges (HIEs), leveraging a central provider directory and common set of rules. At select sites, providers using athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic, HIETexas, NextGen, and Surescripts are now sharing health information with other providers using the Carequality Interoperability Framework.
Published in December 2015, the Carequality Interoperability Framework provides the necessary legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications, and governance processes to enable interoperability between and among the many health care data sharing networks and programs serving diverse user communities nationwide. The framework has been adopted by 13 pioneering health organizations that are working to empower their customers, patients, and providers to securely share health data across HIT platforms and geographies as never before. Many more networks and health organizations are in various stages of adoption and implementation planning.
To date, more than 3,000 clinics and 200 hospitals are live on Carequality and capable of sharing health data. Live exchange has already occurred in four states, with expansion underway as more participants go live on a regular basis. The participating organizations, which represent health care's largest ambulatory vendors, a leading clinical information network, and 30% of the inpatient market, are aggressively rolling out to their user communities nationwide.
"Sutter Health is excited to be one of the first large health care organizations to take advantage of the Carequality framework to support broad clinical information exchange for improved care coordination," says Dr. Steven Lane, clinical informatics director of privacy and interoperability for Sutter Health. "Many of our patients also receive care from community providers utilizing a variety of EHRs. Carequality promises to remove historic barriers to sharing information between different vendors' EHRs allowing patients' information to follow them wherever they choose to receive care. We sincerely hope that all EHR vendors and existing HIE networks commit to implement Carequality's straightforward framework to finally make interoperability a part of the standard way that we provide the safest most cost-effective care to all of our patients."
The Carequality Interoperability Framework makes it possible for health care to replicate the success other industries, such as banking, have achieved in breaking down barriers between many networks, programs, and platforms. Carequality is a multistakeholder initiative that has brought together public and private sector players from across the health care ecosystem to meet the challenge of connecting disparate data sharing networks and platforms. The Carequality community uses a consensus-based process to develop cross-platform connectivity.
"Carequality Framework adoption was important in expanding the number of providers with which we are automatically connected so we can better coordinate care in our communities," says Richard Vaughn MD, chief medical information officer for SSM Health, which is based in St. Louis. "The framework really creates a win-win for patients and providers by helping us make faster and better decisions, avoid reordering expensive tests, and ensure that our patients receive the best care possible. We look forward to the additional benefits that will be realized when other vendors go live on the framework as well."
"We have been using eClinicalWorks for 11 years," says Dr. Gary Singer, from Midwest Nephrology in St. Peters, MO. "Being a specialist whose patients are regularly seen at a local SSM Health hospital, an integration through the Carequality framework helps in electronically retrieving a complete summary about what happened with the patient at the hospital. We particularly appreciate the complete medication lists which we verify with each patient. eClinicalWorks has tightly integrated the ingestion of data from external sources making it very convenient for us in taking care of our patients seen at other care settings."
Scott Paneitz, chief information officer of Signature Medical Group in St. Louis adds, "Signature Medical Group is excited that NextGen is adopting this streamlined integrated approach to accessing clinical data from hospitals and external sources. We believe our physicians will embrace this timely access of patient information to aid in making the best care decisions possible."
Carequality is advancing the promise and potential of health data sharing among patients and providers as the standard of care, explains Dave Cassel, director of Carequality. "With a single unified health data sharing agreement built upon Carequality's ground-breaking principles of trust, there is no more need to negotiate one-off legal agreements with individual data sharing partners. Carequality implementers—and their clients—can connect more quickly and easily than ever before."