Health IT

Carequality almost ready to launch with Epic Systems on board

This does not mean, however, that Epic is putting aside its disdain for the CommonWell Health Alliance, the interoperability network featuring most of its biggest competitors, since the Carequality framework is more like the rules of the road instead of a network.

handshake  behind a corporative building.Great for any design.

Health IT vendors athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic Systems, NextGen Healthcare Information Systems and interoperability network Surescripts will be the first to participate in health information exchange following the Carequality Interoperability Framework.

This does not mean, however, that Verona, Wisconsin-based Epic is putting aside its disdain for the CommonWell Health Alliance, the interoperability network featuring most of its largest competitors, including athenahealth. An Epic spokeswoman explained that the electronic health records giant is concentrating on its own Care Everywhere network among its customers, despite widespread criticism that Epic is a hindrance to true data sharing.

Indeed, the Carequality Interoperablity Framework is more like the “rules of the road,” similar to the agreement banks have to tie together the global network of ATMs, according to Epic. It’s also not unlike a draft bill circulated this week among members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, the Epic spokeswoman said.

For this reason, Epic is enthusiastically participating. “Connecting health information exchange networks is important for patient safety and better care coordination,” Dave Fuhrmann, Epic’s vice president for interoperability, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are implementing the Carequality Framework now. We have sent our customers amendments so they can agree to the rules of the road, and the response has been positive.”

Carequality, a collaborative overseen by the Sequoia Project, a not-for-profit in McLean, Virginia, that advocates for secure health information exchange, is intended to tie together disparate networks, such as CommonWell, Care Everywhere and community-bsed health information exchanges. Participating entities will bring others to the table, notably the customers of these vendors and networks, said Carequality Director Dave Cassel.

“We’re connecting centers of aggregation,” Cassel said, adding that framework allows for quick coupling. “You should see a significant number of Epic, NextGen, eCW and athena sites right out of the gate,” he added.

The initial use case will be query-based exchange of clinical documents, though the framework supports all sorts of data exchange with legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications and governance processes, according to Carequality.

The hope is to go live by the end of February, Cassel said. “It’s an aggressive timeline,” he admitted. “We do expect live exchange this quarter.”

Cassel expects more vendors, as well as other types of networks, such as HIEs, to sign on within the next 3-6 months.

Photo: Flickr user Wirawat Lian-udom