Building on an announcement made almost two years ago, CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality announced today initial connectivity, which is the beginning of a broader effort to increase health data exchange nationwide.
In a blog post published today, CommonWell, a non-profit trade association providing a vendor-neutral platform and interoperability services for its members, announced it had started a limited roll-out of live bidirectional data sharing with an initial set of CommonWell members and providers and other Carequality Interoperability Framework adopters.
Currently, the production use is limited, yet this marks the first step in a collaborative effort to increase health IT connectivity across the country by enabling CommonWell subscribers to engage in health data exchange through directed queries with Carequality-enabled providers, and vice versa.
In the blog post, Jitin Asnaani, executive director of CommonWell Health Alliance, said that the organization has made “significant strides” and has met all Carequality requirements to move into production. Currently, Cerner and Greenway Health have a “handful” of initial providers live on the connection, allowing the CommonWell team to “validate and benchmark the CommonWell-Carequality Connection,” Asnaani wrote.
“In just the first two weeks of a few CommonWell-enabled providers being connected, we saw more than 4,000 documents bilaterally exchanged with Carequality-enabled providers,” Asnaani wrote.
CommonWell and Carequality are on track to make the data sharing services “generally available” to subscribing members and, in turn, their participating providers and healthcare systems, by the end of the summer, officials from both organizations said.
In December 2016, CommonWell and Carequality, an initiative of The Sequoia Project, announced connectivity and collaboration efforts with the aim of providing additional health data sharing options for stakeholders. Officials said that the immediate focus of the work between Carequality and CommonWell would be on extending providers’ ability to request and retrieve medical records electronically from other providers. In the past year and a half, teams at both organizations have been working to establish that connectivity.
Together, CommonWell members and Carequality participants represent more than 90 percent of the acute EHR market and nearly 60 percent of the ambulatory EHR market. Today, more than 15,000 hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations have been actively deployed under the Carequality framework or CommonWell network, officials noted.
“This is the ‘golden spike’ moment, connecting the two big railroads, like when AT&T and Verizon finally got connected. This is building that bridge,” says Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, who also directly observes and participates in conversations with Carequality and CommonWell. “It will take a while for all of the production sites and different vendors to get up and running. That will probably take a couple of years. But you have to have the bridge to connect them to begin.”
Carequality is a national-level, consensus-built, common interoperability framework to enable exchange between and among health data sharing networks. It brings together electronic health record (EHR) vendors, record locator service (RLS) providers and other types of existing networks from the private sector and government, to determine technical and policy agreements to enable data to ﬂow between and among networks and platforms.
CommonWell Health Alliance operates a health data sharing network that enables interoperability using a suite of services aiming 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.
With regard to progress on healthcare interoperability, Tripathi says this connectivity solves one particular type of transaction: “It provides a low-cost ubiquitous way to get basic clinical information among provider organizations for treatment purposes. So, I can get the basic medical record information contained in a CCD (Continuity of Care Document), wherever it is, among these vendors who represent [90 percent] of providers in the U.S. It serves that basic purpose.”
An analysis by KLAS Research issued back in March noted that the CommonWell-Carequality connection will be key to interoperability value. In that report, KLAS analysts noted that the CommonWell Health Alliance’s interoperability efforts were hindered by a lack of provider adoption, but when CommonWell and Carequality eventually connect, “instant value” will be created for users.
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