Carequality announced on Tuesday that several major EHR vendors are using its Interoperability Framework to exchange data with electronic health records of their direct competitors. Officials also said that more than 200 hospitals and 3,000 clinics are now live on Carequality.
“It’s not a trial, it’s not a pilot. We’re up and running – it’s operational and it works,” said Dave Cassel who heads the public-private collaborative under the Sequoia Project umbrella. “Physicians and clinicians are actively getting records under the Carequality framework.”
Hospitals using EHR software or cloud services from athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic, HIETexas, NextGen and Surescripts are among those. Cerner, however, is a member of Carequality that has not yet adopted the Carequality Interoperability Framework.
First published in December of 2015, the framework includes technical specifications, governance processes and legal and policy requirements to enable health information exchange between health systems and data sharing networks.
“If you accept the policy — and Epic accepts the policy — then we just exchange,” said Eric Helsher, Epic’s vice president of client success. “We don’t have to negotiate between one another. What Carequality will do is take meaningful exchange that’s happening today and make it widespread.”
Prior to the Carequality Interoperability Framework every time a provider wanted to exchange information with another health system, it first would have to negotiate an agreement to do so, Helsher said.
The framework eliminates complex negotiations between providers, Helsher said. Carequality has taken care of that with an agreement worked out, ready for members to accept. The agreement enables a single connection to the whole Carequality network, so any organization that joins will be connected to everybody else in the framework.
Cassel added that Epic, for instance, has turned on the connectivity for 50 of its client organizations, sparking others to come on board.
Athenahealth is having a similar impact, he said, as the Boston-based health IT company moves to connect the larger physician practices it serves.
“There will be much more to come in terms of numbers and volume and real impact being felt by a large percentage of people around the country,” Cassel said. “But before any of that can happen, somebody needs to go first. Somebody needs to actually turn it on. The first exchanges need to occur. And that’s where we’re at right now.”
Whereas athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic and NextGen are the initial vendors involved, other participants include Coordinated Care Oklahoma, Surescripts and HIETexas, as well as providers including Sutter Health and SSM Health in the St. Louis area.
Other EHR vendors, notably Cerner, are Carequality members that have yet to implement the framework.
“I think ultimately the value will be very clear and everyone will want to join,” Cassel said. “We’ve talked a lot about the promise for some time now, and it’s no longer just a promise. It’s real. It’s happening right now. It will only continue to grow from here.”