CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality recently announced an agreement to increase HIT connectivity nationwide. The agreement provides additional health data sharing options to a broad range of stakeholders across health care, and has three aspects:
• CommonWell will become a Carequality implementer on behalf of its members and their clients, enabling CommonWell subscribers to engage in health information exchange through directed queries with any Carequality participant.
• Carequality will work with CommonWell to make a Carequality-compliant version of the CommonWell record locator service available to any provider organization participating in Carequality.
• CommonWell and The Sequoia Project, the nonprofit parent under which Carequality operates, have agreed to these initial connectivity efforts and will explore additional collaboration opportunities in the future.
While future collaboration could touch on many different areas within HIT, the immediate focus of the work between Carequality and CommonWell will be on extending providers' ability to request and retrieve medical records electronically from other providers. Some types of information exchange capabilities, such as electronic prescribing and electronic lab results delivery, are already widely adopted. However, variation in data exchange implementation is still a challenge for some providers looking to exchange medical records with others across the care continuum.
This agreement expands the connectivity approach to give providers easier access to more health information. Health data sharing among providers is important whenever a provider is making a diagnostic or treatment decision and needs access to key medical information. By leveraging HIT interoperability, providers can avoid adverse events such as allergic reactions or medication conflicts as well as duplicate procedures, potentially reducing time, costs, and unnecessary hospital admissions.
"Collaboration and inclusion are the keys to success in health data sharing and interoperability," explains Dave Cassel, director of Carequality. "The Carequality Interoperability Framework was developed by a group of diverse health care stakeholders, including members of CommonWell, determined to establish health data sharing as the standard of care by powering connectivity between and among health data networks of all types. With the promise of heath data sharing across Carequality's participating networks and the CommonWell network, we continue to advance toward that goal. It's a win-win-win for patients, providers, and their networks."
"To achieve nationwide interoperability that truly improves patient care, two things are required: collaboration across the health care industry and the will to take real action. We're doing both," says Jitin Asnaani, executive director of CommonWell Health Alliance. "Our vision has always been for a patient's health data to follow him/her regardless of where care occurs, and in turn give providers and caregivers increased access to critical health data when and where it is needed. We believe this connectivity between CommonWell and Carequality will continue to move the country forward on its path to achieving nationwide data exchange by bringing together such a sizeable majority of providers and patients that there will be no turning back for American health care."
The announcement paves the way for the majority of the country's hospital and ambulatory EHRs, as well as the broad continuum of care, including long term care, imaging, behavioral health, and retail pharmacy, to have the option to connect in a consistent way. Together, CommonWell members and Carequality participants represent more than 90% of the acute EHR market and nearly 60% of the ambulatory EHR market. Today, over 15,000 hospitals, clinics, and other health care organizations have been actively deployed under the Carequality framework or CommonWell network. Patients and their providers at these care sites will have access to more complete health data on which to base health care decisions.
CommonWell Health Alliance operates a health data sharing network that enables interoperability using a suite of services to simplify cross-vendor nationwide data exchange. Services include patient ID management, advanced record location, and query/retrieve broker services, allowing a single query to retrieve multiple records for a patient from member systems. CommonWell members that represent care settings across the continuum, including hospitals, ambulatory practices, post-acute and long term care, imaging centers, pharmacies, and others, subscribe to these services and agree to build the capabilities into their solutions.
Carequality facilitates nationwide interoperability between and among the many health data sharing networks and service providers serving diverse user communities, including payer networks, vendor networks, accountable care organizations, and personal health record and consumer services. The Carequality interoperability framework provides the necessary legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications, and governance processes to bridge networks and services.
Additional information on this agreement, including answers to frequently asked questions, is available on the Carequality and CommonWell Health Alliance websites.
Sources: CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality