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Carequality, AMA Singly Advance Health IT Interoperability

The two organizations are pushing health IT interoperability forward in separate initiatives, one through an interoperability framework and other through a collaborative agreement.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Last week, the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology was in St. Louis to witness firsthand the kind of EHR interoperability made possible through the Carequality Interoperability Framework.

Health IT interoperability via Carequality and AMA

Since the announcement of health data exchange using framework going live in August at 3,000 clinics and 200 hospitals, Carequality-enabled information sharing now takes place at more than 11,000 clinics and 500 hospitals and the number of care documents shared has eclipsed more than 50,000, The Sequoia Project announced.

A collection of major EHR and HIE organizations were responsible for putting the Carequality Interoperability Framework into effect by athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic Systems, HIETexas, NextGen and Surescripts.

National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD, MCHM, took in the EHR interoperability on display at clinical settings in St. Louis, including SSM Health.

“With Carequality, we can now begin to send and receive patient health data electronically regardless of what EHR system our partners are using,”  SSM Health Vice President of Value-Based Care & Payment Peter Schoch, MD, said in a public statement.

“Our queries happen behind the scenes during patient registration, so the information is already there when the doctor opens the patient’s chart,” he continued. “By having a more complete picture of the patient’s care, we can make better, faster decisions; avoid reordering expensive tests; and help ensure that our patients receive the best care possible at the lowest possible cost. It’s really a win-win.”

The head of Carequality, one of the health data exchange initiatives overseen by The Sequoia Project, referred to the information sharing happening in St. Louis as microcosm of what’s occurring elsewhere thanks to the adoption of his organizaton’s framework.

“What’s happening here in the St. Louis area is being replicated around the country. The exponential growth we’re seeing is a credit to the diverse stakeholders from across healthcare who came together and developed the Framework specifically to be able to scale nationally and very quickly, by leveraging the existing investments and technologies of our implementers,” said Carequality Director Dave Cassel.

Epic’s Vice President of Interoperability Peter DeVault last month told HealthITInteroperability.com about the benefits provided by Carequality Interoperability Framework when working with other EHR vendors, such as handling variation in the use of health IT standards.

"We do see some variation, not surprisingly, among us and other vendors, which is one of the things that Carequality helps to solve because they specify fairly precisely how you should implement the record exchange," said DeVault. "Rather than one vendor saying to another, 'You've done it wrong,' and vice versa, it's a neutral convening ground where we can all work out those issues and point back to that standardization process."

Elsewhere in the area of health IT interoperability, the American Medical Association reached a collaborative agreement with the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organisation (IHTSDO) to coordinate their design and development of clinical coding sets to support greater integration and in turn healthcare interoperability and data analytics. The former oversees the Current Procedural Terminology while the latter is responsible for SNOMED CT.

According to the joint statement released by the two organizations, the impetus behind the agreement was the “complementary nature of their codes” — in other words, if you can’t beat them, join them.

 “This new agreement focuses on specific projects to develop products that will benefit from the granularity and sophisticated structure of SNOMED CT, and the broad utility and adoption of CPT,” said IHTSDO CEO Don Sweete.

“We intend to use this collaboration as a foundation to achieve our shared goals of increased responsiveness to market needs and greater innovation through improved interoperability among ours and related terminologies,” added AMA CEO & Executive Vice President James L. Madara, MD.

Dig Deeper:

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