Epic, athenahealth among first five vendors to adopt Carequality interoperability framework

Five major electronic health record vendors--athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic, NextGen Healthcare and Surescripts--are the first implementers to adopt the enhanced data sharing practices under the new Carequality interoperability framework.

This step forward, announced Jan. 21, will provide the vendors and their clients with accelerated, less expensive health data sharing contracts and enable them to leverage their existing networks and business relationship to rapidly expand as the Carequality "community" grows. Carequality, a public-private collaborative, released its interoperability framework to further health information exchange in December. The framework is based on principles of trust outlined earlier in 2015 that covers standard legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications and governance processes to enable data sharing.

Carequality's universal principles of trust include:

  • Privacy and security of patient information in compliance with HIPAA
  • Nondiscrimination against each other
  • Compliance with the implementation guide for a use case
  • Local autonomy
  • Accountability
  • Cooperation
  • Acceptable use
  • Universal customer flow downs
  • Identity proofing and authentication
  • Information handling transparency

The initiative will first focus on query-based exchange of clinical documents, but the framework has been developed to support an "unlimited" variety of use cases, according to Carequality.

"The adoption of the Carequality Framework represents a major leap forward for nationwide interoperability," Carequality Director Dave Cassel said in the announcement. "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."

Carequality, launched in 2014 is part of the Sequoia Project, a larger data sharing initiative among providers and others that includes the eHealth Exchange. 

The lack of interoperability among EHRs has been a major bone of contention. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT has published a 10-year interoperability roadmap and released its interoperability standards advisory, its first deliverable pursuant to the roadmap, in 2015. The latter has not been universally embraced.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- learn more about the principles of trust (.pdf)