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Carequality Interoperability Live in 3k Clinics, 200 Hospitals

EHR vendors such as Epic Systems and athenahealth have advanced health IT interoperability via Carequality.

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- Integrated into EHR systems such as athenahealth, Epic Systems, eClinicalWorks, and Next Gen, the Carequality Interoperability Framework is live and enabling health information exchange at more than 3,000 clinics and 200 hospitals, The Sequoia Project announced on Tuesday.

Carequality interoperability progress

“With a single unified health data sharing agreement built upon Carequality’s ground-breaking Principles of Trust, there is no more need to negotiate one-off legal agreements with individual data sharing partners," said Dave Cassel, Director of Carequality. "Carequality implementers — and their clients — can connect more quickly and easily than ever before.”

The enablers of Carequality interoperability go beyond EHR vendors. The likes of Surescripts and HIETexas are key players in the health information exchange space, especially the former in enabling a locator service for patient records.

“Many of the patients served by our National Record Locator Service have dozens and even hundreds of visits in their care histories, so we know these patients are suffering from complex medical issues that represent a large portion of healthcare costs,” said Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer of Surescripts. “By implementing NRLS according to the Carequality framework, we are enabling immediate scale and connectivity based on patient-centric information, so providers can make more informed and higher quality care decisions.”

The Carequality Interoperability Framework made major news earlier this year when athenahealth, Epic Systems, and three other EHR vendors signed on to implement the unified set of legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications, and governance processes.

READ MORE: US Coast Guard Searching for Commercial EHR to Replace Epic

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READ MORE: Surescripts NRLS Use Live at 4 More Major Health Systems

More than a year ago, Epic received its share of criticism for its support (or lack thereof) of EHR interoperability beyond Epic-to-Epic connections via its Care Everywhere health data exchange platform. What's more, the head of athenahealth, President & CEO Jonathan Bush, was one of the most vocal critics of Epic's interoperability approach.

But here we are more than a year later and the two EHR vendors are on the same team.

“Carequality is a big win for patients and providers, and it will help promote continued innovation in interoperability. By creating a vendor and platform-neutral framework that will evolve over time, the initiative supports secure health information exchange for patients without impeding development of new technology,” said Epic's  Vice President of Interoperability Dave Fuhrmann.

“Providers using our network-enabled services expect us to constantly improve their connection to each other and those they share patients with because we don’t succeed unless they can effectively coordinate care. Carequality is helping us to advance this work with our providers,” added John Voith, Director of Interoperability at athenahealth.

EHR vendors aside, today's Carequality interoperability announces more important signals a win for healthcare providers in four states who are already leveraging the information sharing services enabled by the framework.

One such example is Sutter Health whose footprint extends throughout a hundred cities and towns in the northern reaches of California and comprises no less than 24 acute care hospitals.

"Many of our patients also receive care from community providers utilizing a variety of EHRs. Carequality promises to remove historic barriers to sharing information between different vendors’ EHRs allowing patients’ information to follow them wherever they choose to receive care," Clinical Informatics Director of Privacy & Interoperability Steven R. Lane, MD, MPH, FAAFP, explained. "We sincerely hope that all EHR vendors and existing HIE networks commit to implement Carequality’s straightforward framework to finally make interoperability a part of the standard way that we provide the safest most cost-effective care to all of our patients."

Another example is Midwest Nephrology, an eClinicalWorks shop in Missouri whose patients are often seen at nearby SSM Health in St. Louis.

“Being a specialist whose patients are regularly seen at a local SSM Health hospital, an integration through the Carequality framework helps in electronically retrieving a complete summary about what happened with the patient at the hospital," said Gary G. Singer, MD. We particularly appreciate the complete medication lists which we verify with each patient. eClinicalWorks has tightly integrated the ingestion of data from external sources making it very convenient for us in taking care of our patients seen at other care settings.”

The news is a positive sign of things to come for Carequality Interoperability Framework adopters with plans to implement the former this year, such as Coordinated Care Oklahoma.

“Our partnership with Carequality has tremendously strengthened our ability to engage with other networks and quite frankly simplified the process in a way that minimizes the politics and time to connect,” noted Brian Yeaman, MD, the organization's Chief Administrative Officer. “We’ve now enabled local, regional, multistate and now nationwide connections for our providers.”

On the health IT side of things, GE Healthcare, Inovalon, Integrated Data Services, Kno2, Netsmart, and OneRecord are set to join the ranks of successful implementers.

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