Healthcare giants to show feasibility of cross-country data exchange

Five large integrated delivery systems--all of them pioneers of electronic health records--have formed a consortium to demonstrate the feasibility of cross-country health information exchange.

The new Care Connectivity Consortium (CCC) includes Geisinger Health System, Danville, Pa.; Group Health Cooperative (GHC), Seattle; Intermountain Healthcare, Salt Lake City; Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, Calif.; and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Their goal is to implement "interoperability tools" within the next year.

"The goal of the consortium is to demonstrate better and safer care with better data availability. Patients will benefit. If a patient from one system gets sick far from home and must receive healthcare in another system -- or if any system sends patients to another --doctors and nurses at each of the consortium systems will be able to easily and quickly access invaluable information about the patient's medications, allergies, and health conditions, allowing them to provide the right kind of treatment at the right time, and avoid unintended consequences like adverse medication interactions," according to a news release.

The number of patients who will be seen by providers from more than one of these geographically separated systems is likely to be small. But the consortium members want to accelerate the formation of the  National Health Information Network (NHIN), which has so far been confined mostly to federal agencies. Significantly, the consortium will employ national HIT standards in constructing its data exchange.

The consortium hopes that other providers will link with the consortium to exchange information that will promote improvements in patient care. Some members are already involved in regional health information exchanges (HIEs). For instance, Kaiser Permanente Colorado recently entered an agreement to exchange data with the Children's Hospital and Exempla Healthcare in the Denver area. But it's unclear whether there will be a mechanism for regional or state HIEs to hook up with the CCC.

 To learn more:
- read the announcement about the consortium
- see the New York Times article
- read the press release about the Denver HIE

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