CommonWell-Carequality connection does not guarantee value; shared data must be usable—KLAS

EHR data sharing
While Cerner and Epic are making headway, among most EHR vendors, progress in making shared data usable for providers is slow, a KLAS analysis finds. (Getty/andrei_r)

While most electronic health record (EHR) vendors now have the ability to connect to CommonWell, Carequality or both, progress to make the data easy to use has been slow, according to a new KLAS analysis.

The report from KLAS, the third in a series on healthcare interoperability, evaluated the progress of the CommonWell-Carequality connection and the usability of the data brought in via those connections.

While most vendors can now reconcile problem, allergy, medication, and immunization data from these network connections, there are big differences in how contextual data, such as notes and labs, is managed, according to KLAS.

The firm published an initial look at the state of plug-and-play networks (Carequality and CommonWell Health Alliance) in March 2018. In November, CommonWell and Carequality officially teamed up, allowing providers to share information in EHRs with one another regardless of which vendor they use. In a December follow-up report, KLAS looked at the progress of vendor connections to these networks.

While the networks enable provider organizations to share data with any connected EHR, simply being connected does not guarantee value, according to the latest KLAS analysis: “The data coming in must be easy for organizations to consume, and it must not create unnecessary steps in the user workflow.”

Healthcare organizations will need to go through a learning curve with incorporating outside data, something that Epic customers have a head start on, according to KLAS.

RELATED: KLAS report shows a lot is riding on upcoming Carequality, CommonWell partnership

“Setting up a connection is a good first step, but there is no magic bullet that will replace training and time with the data. This is evidenced by the fact that among some customer bases, many organizations are connected but not actively consuming outside data. Organizations must use training to build user trust in the data, but building that trust will still take time,” the KLAS report said.

No vendor received five stars in the KLAS analysis for the overall usability of shared data, as most require some manual processes, such as selecting which data to import. And some vendors are still not yet connected. Allscripts currently does not connect to Carequality but has committed to connect by the second quarter of this year. Medhost has not connected to CommonWell and has not indicated any serious plans to connect, KLAS said.

According to the report, one EMR manager at an organization that uses eClinicalWorks said there was a lot of hype: "People say that the tools are easy to use, but I don’t really see any results. If something is easy to use, it gets used."

The KLAS analysis indicated that Epic and Cerner make shared data most usable, and those vendors stand out from other EMR vendors in making less structured data, like labs and notes, more usable.

Epic customers’ longtime use of Care Everywhere has given them an advantage in data sharing; they are the only customer base comfortable with outside data flowing directly into the patient chart without prior human screening, KLAS said.

In the Epic EHR, problem, allergy, medication, and immunization data from any vendor flows directly into native fields to be reconciled. Notes and labs from Epic sites also flow automatically, while non-Epic sites need to be individually configured for the same level of automation to be achieved, according to the report.

RELATED: CommonWell-Carequality beefs up data sharing, but some providers remain disconnected

“Non-Epic sites accessing Epic data through the CommonWell-Carequality connection were caught off guard by the number of documents they received and the need to sort through multiple documents,” the KLAS analysts wrote.

Cerner customers report having one of the best experiences consuming outside data because Cerner moves beyond the basics of reconciling problem, allergy, medication, and immunization data and can organize and present progress notes and lab data, the KLAS report said.

Looking at other EMR vendors, the report said that Greenway Health lacks meaningful adoption of the CommonWell-Carequality connection, as no Greenway Health customers report actually using outside data. CPSI has the most manual upfront processes, requiring customers to match all patients manually, and the vendor offers only basic support for using outside data.

“Athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, NextGen Healthcare, and Virence Health (GE Healthcare) are all still working to make notes and labs easier to consume. Customers of all vendors report they sometimes have to deal with redundant data from multiple sources,” the KLAS analysts wrote.