Two prominent private sector initiatives aimed at achieving health IT interoperability have joined forces by becoming members of each other.

The CommonWell Health Alliance and the National Association for Trusted Exchange announced Tuesday that they have signed a reciprocal membership agreement and that the two groups will begin working together immediately.

According to a statement issued by CommonWell and NATE, the objective of the agreement is to “establish a mutual synergistic and complementary relationship with the goal of enhancing cross-vendor interoperability to better assure provider and patient access to health data regardless of where care occurs.”

Nick Knowlton
Nick Knowlton

“Our organizations agree that patients should be at the center of their healthcare and that their providers can be empowered to deliver care that is informed by secure and authorized access to that patient’s data, no matter where care has occurred,” said Nick Knowlton, membership committee chair for CommonWell and vice president for software vendor Brightree.

CommonWell, a consortium of health IT vendors, is working to solve the challenges of HIT interoperability by breaking down the barriers to nationwide data exchange through defining and promoting a national infrastructure with common standards and policies. The group says its members represent 72 percent of the acute care electronic health record market and 37 percent of the ambulatory care EHR market.

NATE is a not-for-profit membership association that seeks to enable trusted exchange among organizations by bringing together the expertise of its membership and other stakeholders to address the legal, policy and technical barriers that inhibit health information exchange between HIPAA covered entities and the consumers they serve. NATE’s Blue Button for Consumers Trust Bundle provides a technical solution to establishing scalable trust among organizations using Direct secure messaging to exchange protected health information between HIPAA covered entities and the consumers that they serve.

“The nation’s focus is shifting toward increasing a consumer’s capabilities to exercise their Patient Right of Access under HIPAA, and NATE is excited to continue to collaborate with CommonWell and its membership in realizing this important goal,” said Aaron Seib, CEO of NATE.

“CommonWell looks forward to participating in NATE’s efforts to encourage the sharing of information between our members and the patients they serve and is eager to welcome NATE’s contributions to our work,” added Knowlton.

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