Epic's Faulkner: CommonWell Alliance raises questions

Epic CEO Judy Faulkner said at this week's Health IT Policy Committee meeting that not being invited to be part of the CommonWell Health Alliance prior to its announcement at HIMSS13 last month has caused her to have doubts about its motives. CommonWell--which currently consists of electronic health record companies Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth and Greenway Medical Technologies--was formed with the intention of easing interoperability between vendors.

"What is it?" Faulkner, a policy committee member, asked rhetorically. "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 the business? What components of business will be in it? Will it sell the data? Will there be patents?"

Faulkner's comments reiterated a viewpoint she shared at HIMSS13 when she called CommonWell a "competitive weapon."

CommonWell was a big focus at Wednesday's meeting, as a study group asked to report on the nuts-and-bolts of the Alliance presented their findings to the committee. While no new findings were uncovered, Charles Kennedy, CEO of Accountable Care Solutions for Aetna and a co-presenter of the report, wondered if the alliance's model was sustainable. He compared it to MedUnite, a payer-sponsored effort to create an electronic communications consortium, attempted in the early 2000s. The entity was sold in 2003.

National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari said the main focus should be determining whether CommonWell will help the industry move forward.

"I think for me, in general, the question I asked myself is, 'will it work?'" he said. "Anything that adds little value until you get to near 100 percent [participation] … doesn't work so well."

To learn more:
- check out the HIT Policy Committee materials