CommonWell interoperability available this summer

Fifteen months after banding together in the name of electronic health record interoperability, the CommonWell Health Alliance--which includes EHR vendors Allscripts, athenahealth, Cerner, CPSI, Greenway and McKesson--plans to officially begin delivering on that promise this summer.

While CommonWell, according to a Forbes report, has yet to set a specific date, alliance officials are optimistic about their plans, which were confirmed via a post to the group's website on Tuesday. Cerner Director of Client Results Scott Stuewe, who serves as the head of CommonWell's program management committee, told Forbes that the alliance has been busy obtaining patient consent for participation; to date, more than 10,000 have done so.

Last December, CommonWell announced that three regions--Chicago; Elkin and Henderson in North Carolina; and Columbia, South Carolina--all would serve as initial test beds for the alliance's services, beginning in January. So far, according to Tripp Jennings, vice president and medical informatics officer at Palmetto Health--which was part of that test--the service has performed well. He told Forbes that his facility, a Cerner customer, has had no issues serving patients referred from disparate practices that use athenahealth and Greenway systems.

Shortly after CommonWell's launch in March 2013, Judy Faulkner--CEO of Epic, which was not initially invited to join the alliance--said she had doubts about the group's motives.

"What is it?" Faulkner said at a Health IT Policy Committee for the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT. "Is it a competitive business? Is it a service? Will it be favoring those who started it and using those who did not start it as the means to feed that business? What components of business will be in it? Will it sell the data? Will there be patients?"

In February, however, Epic joined a similar initiative--Carequality--with 25 other organizations, including Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens and Intermountain Healthcare.

To learn more:
- read the Forbes article
- here's the CommonWell post