Monday, February 24, 2014

New Interoperability Initiative "CareQuality" Launched at HIMSS Conference

Healtheway Calls for Industry to Band Together to Transform Dream of Nationwide Health Data Sharing into a Reality

Carequality, a new initiative dedicated to accelerating progress in health data exchange among multi-platform networks, healthcare providers, electronic health record (EHR) and health information exchange (HIE) vendors was announced Monday February 24, 2014 at the HIMSS COnference in Orlando, Florida. Carequality is an open, transparent and inclusive industry-driven effort that will convene stakeholders and facilitate industry consensus to develop and maintain a standards-based interoperability framework that enables information exchange between and among networks. Carequality’s goal is to facilitate agreement on a common national-level set of requirements that will enable providers to access patient data from other groups as easily and securely as today’s bank customers connect to disparate banks and user accounts on the ATM network. Once achieved, this level of health data interoperability will represent a quantum leap in the quality of healthcare available and reduce the cost to support interoperability.

"The new frontier in achieving nationwide, secure health data exchange involves building upon all of the existing great work across various consortia and networks and tying it all together into a unified approach for the industry," said Mariann Yeager, Healtheway’s Executive Director. "A group of organizations – including many of those most active today in achieving nationwide interoperability – approached Healtheway about serving as the neutral convener for industry stakeholders to come together and work through implementation-level issues to enable exchange between and among networks. Today, we are presenting a call for action to participate in CareQuality and join this effort."

CareQuality is just beginning its activities and is open to all stakeholders who wish to participate. Healtheway is issuing a call for all interested parties to join the effort and engage in CareQuality. A wide range of organizations have pledged to join CareQuality as founders, including:

  • California Association of Health Information Exchanges
  • Community Health Information Collaborative
  • eClinicalWorks
  • Epic
  • Greenway
  • ICA
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • lifeIMAGE
  • MDI Achieve
  • Medfusion
  • Medicity
  • MedVirginia
  • Mirth
  • Netsmart
  • New York eHealth Collaborative
  • Optum HIE
  • Orion Health
  • Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange
  • Surescripts
  • Walgreens

Interoperability is a key component of the meaningful use program and is critical to building out an IT infrastructure to supporting a transformed healthcare system. CareQuality's work will be available to all industry stakeholders regardless of membership so that any provider group, electronic health record vendor, or exchange network can see how the group’s participants are accelerating exchange connections by using a single, non-proprietary interoperability framework.

At last year's HIMSS conference a group of EHR vendors, headed up by McKesson, Athenahealth and Cerner, started the CommonWell Health Alliance to promote interoperability. Epic, which was left of the effort, said this was more of a competitive play, and declined to join. Epic has questioned the purpose of Commonwell, claiming it is unnecessary since national interoperability standards already exist. Now Epic, along with many leading HIE vendors are anchors in the CareQuality Initiative.

“We are pleased to support Healtheway’s Carequality initiative. We strongly believe in the democratization of data exchange under the guidance of an independent national convener like Healtheway. We have a successful track record of cross-EHR interoperability conforming to the NwHIN and newer Direct standards and welcome the opportunity to work with this broad group of well-respected industry stakeholders to help accelerate record exchange under free and open standards," said Carl Dvorak the President at Epic.

HIE vendors like Medicity, ICA, Orion and Optum to name a few, are on board with the new initiative, and having it under the auspices of Healtheway as a neutral third party convener seems to give it some degree of transparency. "The Carequality initiative aligns strategically with Medicity’s commitment to interoperability and integrated workflow solutions for network-enabled population health. We are excited to join with key industry stakeholders to foster a more effective, connected health care ecosystem. Collectively, we embrace the value of continually improving patient outcomes, and this collaboration demonstrates great strides toward that goal," said Nancy Ham, CEO of Medicity.