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Epic, athenahealth, Others Implement Carequality Framework

The Carequality Interoperability Framework aims to create widespread interoperability across the healthcare industry, starting with five major EHR vendors.

- Five major EHR vendors have joined the Sequoia Project’s Carequality initiative, stating that they will adopt the group’s Carequality Interoperability Framework.

The Sequoia Project carequality interoperability framework

According to a statement from the Sequoia Project, the likes of athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic Systems, NextGen Healthcare, and Surescripts have signed on as the first implementers of the Carequality framework.

This framework, the details of which were released in December, seeks to be a game-changer in the EHR interoperability sphere by putting legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications, and governance processes under one program initiative.

Because of this, these five initial program participants will potentially see many connectivity benefits. Data sharing will be easier and less costly because each vendor will work with one set of legal agreements that apply to all other participants, rather than seeking individual legal terms with other vendors.

Additionally, the provisions under the Carequality framework are able to make use of pre-existing interoperability agreements and health information exchanges (HIEs). Ideally, these pre-existing relationships will help the Carequality agreement grow.

READ MORE: Epic Systems, Cerner, McKesson Make Key EHR Technology Moves

According to Carequality representatives, the growth of this framework is expected to create benefits throughout the entire healthcare industry.

“The adoption of the Carequality Framework represents a major leap forward for nationwide interoperability,” explained Dave Cassel, director of Carequality. “By these organizations committing to unified Rules of the Road, they are simplifying system-to-system connections to make data exchange easier for a significant portion of the healthcare ecosystem.”

Overall, the Carequality Interoperability Framework shows that EHR vendors are willing and committed participants in the nation’s move toward universal interoperability.

“The Carequality Framework is a testament to healthcare vendors’ commitment toward making seamless interoperability a reality for patients and providers,” says Dave Fuhrmann, Vice President of Interoperability for Epic. “Shared rules and guidelines are going to make it possible for all of us to dramatically increase the number of connections we have across systems to make care safer and more efficient.”

Other vendors agree, saying that leveraging multiple initiatives to increase interoperability is imperative for allowing physicians to do their jobs at the highest level.

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

“athenahealth is committed to making meaningful information sharing inherent in health care, whereby information follows the patient and informs the provider across the care continuum,” said Doran Robinson, vice president of Network Integration for athenahealth. “The industry needs to evolve from simply exchanging information to meaningfully sharing it and introducing new workflows to access it. We believe that efforts such as Carequality, CommonWell and the Argonaut Project are making marked progress on mobilizing health care information in meaningful and secure ways.”

The details of the Sequoia Project’s Carequality Interoperability Framework were released late last year. By including important components such as legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications, governance processes, and previous frameworks such as the Sequoia Project’s Principles of Trust, vendors can participate in complete and well-connected interoperability programs.

"What it means is that there is right now a contract that you can sign that puts you on this well-understood, well-specified level playing field and allows you to connect with anybody else who has signed on to the same framework," Carequality Director Dave Cassel told EHRIntelligence.com in an exclusive interview following the initial announcement for the Carequality framework.

According to Sequoia Project leaders, the Carequality Interoperability Framework is an aggregation of previous industry principles regarding interoperability.

"It's a by-product of the community helping to shape a single nationwide interoperability framework that serves as this unifying force," said the Sequoia Project’s CEO Mariann Yeager in that same interview with ERHIntelligence.com. "It's putting into practice and making real the very specific rules of the road and the legal framework that those in the implementation community can leverage to now share information more seamlessly across these various networks."

READ MORE: Do EHR Vendors Influence User’s Health Information Exchange?

Overall, this new framework shows that the healthcare industry is on the brink of making interoperability a widespread reality. The Carequality Interoperability Framework is a significant part of that.

"We're on the cusp of seeing connectivity that has been unprecedented in this country," Yeager explained. "We know there has been a lot of progress to date and there's just this momentum which continues to grow and push efforts forward. We're on the cusp of seeing really tremendous progress."

Yeager noted that the healthcare industry has been making great strides toward increasing interoperability, and that the Carequality framework seeks to put all of that progress and momentum under one framework for all of the industry to access.

"Our whole focus is on interoperability and making it real. The community as a whole has been moving forward and has been lockstep in this for quite some time, and this is the full-fledged representation of their work over the past year," Yeager maintained.

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