Epic, athenahealth, other EHR vendors sign on for Carequality Interoperability Framework

EHR heavy-hitters to be first class of vendors to implement data exchange principles set by The Sequoia Project.
By Mike Miliard
11:30 AM

Barely a month after its launch, the Carequality Interoperability Framework devised by The Sequoia Project has already signed up five health IT heavy-hitters to be the first to implement its data exchange principles: athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, Epic, NextGen Healthcare and Surescripts.

The vendors – at least two of whom have verbally sparred in recent years over their willingness to play ball with interoperability – have agreed to provide health information exchange services for their customers under the Carequality Framework: legal terms, policies, technical specs and processes meant to enable another step forward for nationwide health information exchange.

[Also: Carequality interoperability framework seeks wide appeal]

Sequoia Project officials say provider clients of these early implementers – who will first focus on query-based exchange of clinical documents, eventually expanding to other use cases – will benefit from faster, less expensive data sharing agreements, because they no longer need to develop one-off legal agreements between individual partners.

"The adoption of the Carequality Framework represents a major leap forward for nationwide interoperability," said Dave Cassel, director of Carequality. "By these organizations committing to unified Rules of the Road, they are simplifying system-to-system connections to make data exchange easier for a significant portion of the healthcare ecosystem."

Earlier this year, Epic offered Congressional testimony about another interoperability group, the CommonWell Health Alliance, questioning its membership fees and contractual practices.

This led Jonathan Bush, CEO of founding CommonWell member athenahealth, to playfully tweet at Epic CEO Judy Faulkner:

Judy, Judy, Judy. Can't afford 1.4M? Puh-leese! @athenahealth will for you. Join @CommonWell and lets connect.

— Jonathan Bush (@Jonathan_Bush) March 18, 2015

Now Epic and athenahealth are both early sign-ons to the Carequality framework.

"Athenahealth believes that physicians should be allowed to focus on patients, not the hassles of coordinating care," said Doran Robinson, vice president of network integration for athenahealth, in a statement. "We’re thrilled to join other major players in reducing the legal and regulatory barriers that impede the development of a national health information backbone that connects care settings, regardless of vendor or service provider."

[Also: Epic and athenahealth: Must one choose sides?]

"The Carequality Framework is a testament to healthcare vendors’ commitment toward making seamless interoperability a reality for patients and providers," said Dave Fuhrmann, vice president of interoperability for Epic. "Shared rules and guidelines are going to make it possible for all of us to dramatically increase the number of connections we have across systems to make care safer and more efficient."

"Through the Carequality Framework, Surescripts is breaking down legacy barriers and collaborating with other industry leaders to make nationwide healthcare interoperability a reality," said Tom Skelton, CEO of Surescripts. 

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN