Healthcare interoperability and the CommonWell Health Alliance

by Dave Cormack, President and CEO, Brightree


Healthcare interoperability is one of the most important issues facing our industry today. As a nation, we have invested billions of dollars in technology and systems, and unless we can efficiently move data across systems from point A to point B, those investments will be weakened and devalued. Interoperability is not an easy task. Interoperability has many complexities – the first and foremost being the ability to match patient identities across care settings.

A few years ago, the government informed the healthcare vendor community that it was not politically feasible to have a national patient identity system driven by them. The vendor community responded by forming the Commonwell Health Alliance® and developed a means to solve for patient identity across vendors and across care settings. In order to use this capability in an impactful way, the Alliance added a service which enables providers to seamlessly retrieve clinical information on patients under their care. The service was implemented at the vendor level to make it plug-and-play for all Alliance members and their customers. Creating an alliance with the breadth and vision to tackle this monumental initiative is no easy task; however, the alternative of building thousands of point-to-point interfaces is very expensive and time consuming. The Alliance has proven that its approach works and is actively engaged in scaling the service delivery areas.

In the past few days, I have received several questions on the particulars of the Alliance. Let us be clear. The Alliance is open to all HIT vendors, and we at Brightree are committed to working with every vendor relevant to our providers. There is no NDA that must be signed to join, or learn about the Alliance. And, the agreements which shape the Alliance specifically prohibit the Alliance, or its service providers, to sell any patient data that is transmitted with the services. Recently, Jeremy Delinsky, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Alliance, penned a great blog on this topic, and I encourage anyone with any questions to read his article.

Brightree is the only vendor in the Alliance solely focused on post-acute care. We are very excited to be a member of this extremely important industry initiative to improve the ability of providers giving care and enhancing the patient experience. Brightree is working on behalf of the post-acute care community, including HME/DME providers, home health agencies and hospice organizations, to input use case models which support their specific needs. Together with other Alliance members, we are pursuing this simple vision: a patient’s data should be available in a secure, trusted manner to the individual and their care providers, regardless of where care occurs.

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