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by Zane Burke
Published on December 12, 2016

CommonWell Health Alliance and Carequality today announced a major step forward in health care interoperability. Both organizations have agreed to work together by leveraging respective strengths of each other's organizations to create a level interoperability playing field for all provider organizations that wish to share clinical information using standards-based queries. This is terrific news for interoperable health care.

Here's how it will work. As part of the reciprocal agreement, CommonWell will become an implementer of the Carequality framework on behalf of all CommonWell members and their clients who chose to sign the Carequality data sharing agreement.

This will allow CommonWell participants to access all organizations in the Carequality Directory and allow these providers to exchange clinical data with all providers served by any other Carequality implementer, regardless of whether or not they are members of CommonWell, and regardless of which EHR supplier they use. This means a Cerner client that uses CommonWell services will be able to connect with a NextGen, Epic or any of the other EHR supplier clients that are connected through the Carequality framework. All of this can be facilitated without changes to their current CommonWell configuration.

Additionally, Carequality has agreed to make the CommonWell Record Locator Service (RLS) available to any Carequality connected provider organization, regardless of whether or not the provider's EHR vendor is a member of CommonWell. The RLS helps providers find patient records in the various locations where patients may have received care. This is a big deal. It means that the CommonWell person-centered approach to interoperability will now be available to all vendors and all providers.

Why is this such good news for interoperability?

  • It creates near-universal connectivity that establishes a baseline query capability for all providers, regardless of their EHR supplier. There will no longer be a need for vendor-preferred networks or arbitrary competitive partitions in the reach of interoperability.
  • It enables more person-centered care through the widespread availability of robust RLS, regardless of vendor. Providers will be able to quickly assemble a more complete patient record.
  • The Carequality common governance model will drastically reduce the legal paperwork of establishing new connections between providers. Since all implementers agree to common governance, there is no need to negotiate hundreds of specific agreements.
  • CommonWell and Carequality's parent organization, The Sequoia Project, will explore additional collaboration avenues to advance interoperability in the future.

More information and FAQs about the announcement can be found on the CommonWell website.

While this is a step in the right direction, there is still more work to be done to further patient-centered interoperability. There are still challenges to be solved, like strong patient identity matching and greater control of patient record location. That's why Cerner remains committed to advancing interoperability through multiple avenues and initiatives like CommonWell, The Direct Project and the development and adoption of open APIs like FHIR and other standards-based information exchange and access mechanisms.

If you're a Cerner client and interested in taking advantage of these services, complete the form below to have a member of our interoperability team connect with you.

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