Healthcare information technology companies Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies, and RelayHealth have launched the CommonWell Health Alliance to support universal, trusted access to healthcare data through seamless interoperability.
Healthcare information technology (HIT) companies Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies, and RelayHealth have launched the CommonWell Health Alliance, planned to be an independent, not-for-profit organization that will support universal, trusted access to healthcare data through seamless interoperability. This 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 formation of this alliance takes healthcare a step closer to broad industry interoperability," says John Hammergren, chairman and chief executive officer (CEO), McKesson Corp. "A national and trusted health information exchange will break down the information silos in healthcare and should dramatically improve the quality and cost effectiveness of care delivery.
The alliance will define, promote, and certify a national infrastructure with common platforms and policies, he adds, and will ensure that HIT products displaying the alliance seal are certified to work on the national infrastructure.
“We believe the industry needs to step up to the challenges of interoperability,” says Neal Patterson, co-founder, chairman, CEO, and president, Cerner. “If we can rise to the challenge as an industry, we have a chance to deliver a golden era of healthcare. It is a system where consumers not only have a right to their data, but also have the ability to mobilize [them] 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 healthcare consumer.”
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:
Interoperability is the focus of the second stage of meaningful use of certified electronic health record (EHR) technology to achieve health and efficiency goals. "Eligible professionals," including physicians, can receive funds through the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs if they meet certain criteria. In October, Farzad Mostashari, MD, of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, told those attending the American Academy of Family Physicians annual meeting that they should “see, expect, demand” that their EHR systems meet interoperability standards over the next 9 to 12 months.
Other comments on the alliance:
McKesson and athenahealth are among the EHR vendors participating in the Medical Economics EHR Best Practices Study, which pairs vendors and primary care practices to test fully functional EHRs for 2 years. The primary care physicians are receiving installation, training, and support and in exchange have agreed to detail their experiences for their fellow physicians.