Carequality reports a spike in records exchanged, but CommonWell connection still limited

Doctor computer keyboard
Carequality and DirectTrust both saw a double-digit increase in records exchanges. (Getty/jacoblund)

Two prominent trusted exchange frameworks—DirectTrust and Carequality—have seen a spike in healthcare organizations exchanging data over the last three months.

Notably absent from those numbers is a much-anticipated partnership between Carequality and CommonWell Health Alliance that is still in "limited rollout mode," according to Carequality spokesperson Jim Lubinskas.

Carequality Vice President Dave Cassel said the volume of documents exchanged over the framework has spiked recently, and more than half of the documents exchanged in the last two years have occurred in the last three months.

The organization exchanged more than 14 million clinical documents in August alone, bringing its two-year total to 59 million.

“We’ve seen growth each month that Carequality has been in operation, but the rate of growth has been dramatic over the past few months,” he said in a statement.

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Those numbers are almost entirely associated with Carequality's framework. CommonWell, which agreed to connect its framework with Carequality in 2016, announced an initial rollout in August. At that time, CommonWell Executive Director Jitin Asnaani said connectivity with Carequality would be “generally available” to members by the end of the summer. He added that 4,000 documents had been exchanged over the first two weeks.

But Lubinskas said that level of broad connectivity still isn’t available and that the Carequality-CommonWell connection is still limited. 

However, the organization is gearing up for general availability within the next several weeks. A CommonWell spokesperson said CareQuality and CommonWell have bilaterally exchanged a total of 78,000 documents in the first two months of the pilot, including the 4,000 previously reported by Asnaani.

DirectTrust reported similar increases in both the number of healthcare organizations using its framework and Direct exchange transactions in the third quarter. The number of organizations using DirectTrust stands at 133,000, a 25% increase from last year.

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The nonprofit said there were 65.5 million transactions in the third quarter, a 41% increase that brought DirectTrust’s cumulative transactions to 497 million.

A close look at those statistics shows there’s “an emerging trend with new use-cases for Direct exchange gaining traction,” President and CEO Scott Stuewe said in a statement. The average number of messages per account increased 25% over the last three months.

“The number of messages per address spiked significantly and only a portion of our members were responsible for this,” he told FierceHealthcare. “Those members have clearly embarked on high-volume clinical communication between many providers and a few departmental accounts replacing fax, phone and file transfer.”