Health care information technology (HIT) companies Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies and RelayHealth announced today the launch of the CommonWell Health Alliance, planned to be an independent not-for-profit organization that will support universal, trusted access to health care data through seamless interoperability. The group says it is an effort is aimed at improving the quality of care delivery while working to lower costs for care providers, patients and the industry as a whole.
The Alliance intends to be a collaborative effort of suppliers who are focused on achieving data liquidity between systems, in compliance with patient authorizations, according to a statement. It will define, promote and certify a national infrastructure with common platforms and policies. It also will ensure that HIT products displaying the Alliance seal are certified to work on the national infrastructure.
“Today’s announcement represents an inflection point in health care, with key industry leaders coming together to support the delivery of a national health information exchange,” said John Hammergren, chairman and CEO, McKesson Corporation. “The formation of this alliance takes health care a step closer to broad industry interoperability. A national and trusted health information exchange will break down the information silos in health care and should dramatically improve the quality and cost effectiveness of care delivery. Creating data liquidity between all HIT developers is fundamental to improving patient care, enhancing the vitality of the health care industry, and strengthening the long-term health of our nation.”
Neal Patterson, co-founder, chairman, CEO and president, Cerner, said the focus is to step up to the challenges of interoperabity. “If we can rise to the challenge as an industry, we have a chance to deliver a golden era of health care. It is a system where consumers not only have a right to their data, but also have the ability to mobilize it in the pursuit of better health. This alliance is about setting aside the admittedly tough politics of this issue to do what is right for the health care consumer. We at Cerner are proud to play a leadership role in this exciting effort.”
Elements of the Alliance’s national infrastructure will be tested in a local pilot within the next year. Early components will include the following core services:
- Cross-entity patient linking and matching services: Help developers and providers link and match patients as they transition through care facilities, regardless of the underlying software system
- Patient consent and data access management: Foster HIPAA-compliant and simple patient-centered management of data sharing consents and authorizations
- Patient record locator and directed query services: Help providers deliver a history of recent patient care encounters, and, with appropriate authorization, patient data across multiple providers and episodes of care.
“The formation of the CommonWell Health Alliance will be a significant step forward toward the electronic exchange of health information to support clinicians and patients,” said Janet Marchibroda, director of the Health Innovation Initiative at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “The founding members of the Alliance are focused on exactly the right foundational areas, and it’s terrific to see industry leaders stepping up to solve the problem of interoperability on behalf of providers and patients everywhere.”
“Allscripts’ vision has been to create a true Connected Community of Health. We believe open platforms are required to realize that vision and make the improvements our health care delivery system needs to dramatically improve outcomes while reducing cost,” said Paul Black, president and CEO, Allscripts. “This alliance provides a framework that will enable patient identification and record-sharing for providers across the nation. This is good for care providers, for patients and for the country. We are proud to be a founding member and to help lead this important effort.”
Tee Green, president and CEO, Greenway. said he anticipates an evolution to a smarter healthcare system basead on open collaboration and data flow. “We’ve been telling caregivers the marketplace can provide it and sustain it, and they are right to expect it. Consumers are no different, and a patient-enabled approach to data access will foster a deeper and more efficient patient-provider relationship. Allowing data to flow more freely fits the needs of a mobile society just as providers are taking on more financial risk in coordinating care.”
“We’ve built athenahealth on the vision that health care needs an information backbone that facilitates and incents true health information exchange. However, the promise of the free flow of health information and the reality of it today are worlds apart,” said Jonathan Bush, CEO and chairman, athenahealth, Inc. “We support the CommonWell Health Alliance because we believe that being open matters, especially when it comes to patient care. CommonWell’s efforts to bring major developers together to pilot patient linking and matching across IT systems and care settings is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to helping lead these efforts as a founding member of the Alliance.”
Members of the Alliance say they are committed to collaborating with all HIT developers to realize the vision of integrated health care and encourage other HIT companies to join.