eClinicalWorks invests $10M in interoperability project

By Mike Miliard
03:28 PM

In a bid to spur collaboration among providers, ambulatory electronic health record developer eClinicalWorks has launched Join The Network, a peer-to-peer communications platform that officials say will enable physicians to connect with each other, irrespective of the EHR they use.

With some 10,000 physicians already part of the network, eClinicalWorks officials say the firm is investing an additional $10 million over the next year to further expand the platform and connect physician practices, whether they're using EHRs or are still paper-based.

"We are making this investment because we believe that optimal physician collaboration is central to improving EHR adoption and enhancing point of care decision making which then improves patient care," eClinicalWorks CEO Girish Navani tells Healthcare IT News.

"There are many technologies in the market, but few that promote a peer-to-peer form of health information exchange," he adds. "An open, secure network will help move the industry forward."

One impetus behind Join The Network is that medical practices are getting “wired behind walls,” say eClincialWorks officials. Even those who have deployed EHR systems aren't often communicating with each other, and fax machines still have too big a role transfering patient records and coordinating patient care.

This new initiative uses a network to share clinical information between providers, regardless of what EHR they're using. The system-neutral solution allows the open, electronic transfer of records between any healthcare provider.

“One challenge I face as a physician is being able to collaborate with other providers on a patient’s treatment plan or evaluation in a way that is secure, but efficient and ensures accuracy,” says Bradley Block, MD, of Block, Nation, Chase & Smolen Family Medicine from Oviedo, Fla., in an eClinicalWorks press release. “With this peer-to-peer network, we have built a large community of providers that was simple to create and grow.”

Join The Network will be compatible with Direct Project protocols. Through those capabilities, eClinicalWorks officials say members can connect with providers; send electronic referrals to other providers along with demographic and insurance information; transmit patient record with attachments such as progress notes, lab results and medical summaries; automatically receive recommended providers within a 10 mile radius; find providers using a member-specified radius and specialty; build personal address books and more.

While Navani concedes that $10 million is "a lot of money," he doesn't seem too concerned about reaping immediated ROI.

"We plan to invest on making it successful and are willing to invest more, if necessary," he says. "We are patient and will find the right business model. Health information exchange creates value for providers, payers, employers and patients. If interoperability becomes seamless, it will create value."

Health information exchange and interoperability are on more and more providers' and policymakers' minds these days, especially in the wake of the Stage 2 meaningful use rules.

eClinicalWorks sees Join the Network as a way to "[make] sure we invest for the long run to make health information exchange real," says Navani. "We felt it was our responsibility not to wait for the market to take its own time to open it up."