CommonWell Health Alliance plans nationwide expansion

athenahealth, Cerner, CPSI, Greenway, McKesson plan to broaden access
By Mike Miliard
11:00 AM
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About five dozen provider sites across 15 states are currently live with services from CommonWell Health Alliance, the vendor-led interoperability initiative. On Thursday, the group says it plans to grow that number to 5,000 nationwide in 2015.

[See also: MEDITECH joins CommonWell, among others]

Some 60 providers in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Washington use CommonWell for patient identification, record location and secure access.

Now five of its vendor members – athenahealth, Cerner, CPSI, Greenway Health and McKesson – plan to expand deployments in 2015 to enable at least 5,000 provider sites to be live on the services nationwide, officials say.

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"CommonWell and its members are well on their way to making nationwide interoperability a reality," said CommonWell Executive Director Jitin Asnaani in a press statement. "Member commitment to action is already producing real-world interoperability services, but this expands the benefits of data exchange across the health care continuum and across the country."

"Being interoperable on paper or via system certification alone isn't good enough; we have to take measures to advance actual interoperation across health care," said Jeremy Delinsky, chief product officer at athenahealth, who said in a statement atheahealth would make CommonWell services available at no additional charge, to its network of more than 62,000 providers.

"We've always considered information exchange capabilities to be inherent within the services we deliver versus something extra to charge for," he added. "Making CommonWell instant-on for our clients is the latest extension of how athenahealth is working to ensure information can follow the patient, no matter the care setting or EHR system."

Officials from Cerner, meanwhile, say it has seen some 175 provider sites across 39 states sign up to use CommonWell services in 2015. Cerner will offer CommonWell services for free to its clients through 2017, after one-time setup fee.

"Together, Cerner, along with other CommonWell members and our thousands of combined clients, is growing a national interoperability network that helps people give their care providers access to their health information regardless of where they are in the U.S," said Bob Robke, CommonWell Board Treasurer and Cerner Vice President for Interoperability Services, in a statement.

One such Cerner client is Columbia, S.C.-based Palmetto Health, which was part of in CommonWell's initial pilot in 2014.

"We plan on it being part of our strategy for interoperability not just in our region but nationally," said Tripp Jennings, Palmetto's vice president for medical informatics, in a statement. "Technologies like this dramatically change the way we do emergency care and deliver care across the whole continuum."

McKesson also plans to make CommonWell services available at no additional cost to its Paragon customers in 2015, and CPSI and Greenway Health also say they'll expand services across their client base.

"Nationwide interoperability must be a goal of all of us to truly transform health care delivery and outcomes, and CommonWell's collaboration and services are a major step towards that goal," said Scott Fannin, Greenway Health's vice president of product management for interoperability."