The quest for healthcare data interoperability is ramping up as two separate initiatives now have teamed to accelerate progress.

CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality last week expanded information sharing capabilities between CommonWell members and healthcare organizations using the Carequality Interoperability Framework. As a result, hospitals in either organization can share Continuity of Care Documents.

CommonWell Health Alliance, a vendor-led organization that embeds interoperability services into health information systems, brings its 3-year-old health information exchange network to the table.

Carequality has been working on a governance framework that enables different networks to link to each other in much the same way that the telephone system works—pick a participating stakeholder listed in Carequality’s data repository and make the connection.

Carequality participants include a large number of vendors along with providers, patients, insurers, pharmaceutical firms, health information exchanges, public health organizations, record locator services and imaging services, among others, says Dave Cassel, vice president for Carequality at the Sequoia Project, which maintains the federal eHealth Exchange, the largest health information exchange in the nation.

Dave Cassel
Dave Cassel

Also See: Cleveland provider, payer start to exchange data electronically

Participating providers and other stakeholders will agree to exchange data via a specific set of standards and protocols for exchange. These standards basically comprise the rules of the road for uniform transmitting and receiving of healthcare data.

The community of stakeholders working with Carequality already generates an impressive amount of data exchange. In May, the community exchanged 4 million to 5 million clinical documents, then 5 million to 6 million in June and an expected 7 million in July, according to Cassel.

The eHealth Exchange will support services to the CommonWell and Carequality initiative.

As of May, the eHealth Exchange was operating in 75 percent of the nation’s hospitals, supported by 59 regional or state health information exchanges and offered by about 15 electronic health record vendors. Federal agencies including Medicare, Medicaid, Department of Defense, Department of Veteran Affairs and Social Security Administration also support eHealth Exchange.

CommonWell now has joined with Carequality in offering the eHealth Exchange and the governing services as a package, and they have a few live sites in limited production using live data, says Jitin Asnaani, executive director at CommonWell. In an early test, 4,000 documents were exchanged between vendors as they check connections and get feedback from early adopter users.

CommonWell, with 80 members, also is working with electronic health record vendors to see how well data is being submitted and retrieved and if the network is slowing down. EHR companies will be on the front lines of offering CommonWell services to clients.

To date, Carequality’s common standards for data exchange have enabled 600,000 physicians to share data across networks, according to the Sequoia Project. Once the eHealth Exchange completes the Carequality application process, each eHealth Exchange participant can add Carequality connectivity to bi-directionally share data with other Carequality members.

Even fierce rivals such as Cerner and Epic could find themselves exchanging data, Cassel notes. “They all are connecting into a broad ecosystem. We are now moving into true national data exchange with a broader pool of participants,” he adds.

A broad rollout of CommonWell’s services could start in late 2018.

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