Six leading health care information technology (HIT) companies announced March 4 an agreement to move toward shared, seamless access to health care data. They have formed a new CommonWell Health Alliance they say represents a major step toward a national health information exchange. The partnering entities are:
- athenahealth (ISMA vendor partner)
- Greenway Medical Technologies
The not-for-profit alliance is intended to be a collaborative effort toward interoperability, which means the ability to share electronic information or data among different providers and technology systems. Think of interoperability as a common language enabling communication.
Jonathan Bush, CEO and chairman of athenahealth, Inc., noted that the promise of a free flow of health information and the reality of it today are worlds apart.
“We support the CommonWell Health Alliance because we believe that being open matters, especially when it comes to patient care,” he said.
ISMA member Alan Snell, M.D., Chief Medical Informatics Officer for St. Vincent Health, advised, "Some industry experts feel this new Alliance is more about competing with Epic than it is about interoperability between Alliance members. Epic has grown to approximately 50 percent of the EHR domestic market. It will be interesting to see if the Alliance has an impact in slowing that over the next several years."
The vendors in the alliance anticipate a pilot project within the next year to include:
- Patient linking and matching - Provide a way for vendors to identify patients as they move from setting to setting, in a robust and seamless industry-wide data environment.
- Patient access and consent management - Foster a HIPAA-compliant, patient-controlled means to simplify the management of consents and authorizations for data sharing.
- Record locator service and directed query - Enable providers to match the locations of a patient’s previous health care encounters, no matter where the encounter occurred, and gain access to that data in an industry standard way.
The original six vendors are encouraging other HIT companies to join the alliance. Learn more about the new entity here.
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