As the healthcare industry continues to demand smarter, interoperable solutions, WellSky is dedicated to collaborating with providers to better connect historically siloed care settings. We understand that true interoperability has the power to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives and improve the overall health and wellness of our population.
Dedicated to this mission of interconnected care across the continuum, WellSky is an active member of the CommonWell Health Alliance. CommonWell is a nonprofit trade organization that provides a nationwide, vendor-neutral platform for interoperability that breaks down the technological and process barriers to effective health data exchange.
As we continue to build upon our interoperability strategy, we sat down with former CommonWell Executive Director Jitin Asnaani to discuss the value of CommonWell Services.
1. Can you tell us about CommonWell Services and how they work? What is the value?
CommonWell Services are designed to help caregivers find out where their patients have had care and, if desired, to retrieve the health records from those locations.
CommonWell services solve for complex technology and policy issues around two central capabilities: 1) record location, patient matching, and record linking (addressed by our smart “record locator service” or “RLS”) and 2) federated query of data at national scale (which is solved by our “data broker”).
From a caregiver point of view, access to these services is simply built into the caregiver’s IT platform (e.g., their electronic or personal health records applications), enabling the caregiver to access the data within their native clinical workflows.
2. Can you tell us more about the services that are coming soon and how they will work?
Soon, CommonWell will be launching event notifications, which will alert clinical practitioners when a linked patient has interacted with another care provider. For example, if someone is admitted to the ER, the hospital that person visits won’t always alert their primary care provider (PCP) or skilled nursing facility (SNF) about the encounter. This new service would alert PCPs and SNFs — that have opted in — that a patient was admitted or discharged.
3. What is on the horizon for CommonWell?
We’re really excited about what’s next for CommonWell. You’ll soon be hearing more about efforts to enable direct consumer access to medical data. Many of our members specialize in products that empower consumers by making it easier to access and engage with their data. Several members are working towards having products that will be generally available (GA) soon.
On the policy side, you’ve probably heard about the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC)’s Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), which is an outcome of the bipartisan congressional 21st Century Cures Act. A key goal of TEFCA is to enable clinical practitioners to choose their preferred on-ramp to interoperability nationwide, rather than having to participate in a plethora of different initiatives. Under the TEFCA model, there will be multiple Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs) that will serve as the core for nationwide interoperability, and each QHIN will in turn have one or more on-ramps for health care industry participants. CommonWell intends to become one of these QHINs moving forward, and we have created an increasing number of on-ramps through our Members, especially our EHR and other HIT technology providers. We are committed to connecting to other QHINs, thus enabling ONC to create the truly ubiquitous interoperability fabric that TEFCA envisions.
4. When it comes to interoperability, there has been a significant focus on large hospital systems and acute settings. How can CommonWell Services impact post-acute care providers?
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) of 2009 was hyper-focused on acute and ambulatory settings, but that doesn’t mean that interoperability in other settings isn’t critical to improving patient care. In fact, more than half of all adults 65 and older have three or more ongoing medical problems, such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or arthritis—which increases the likelihood they’ll need to be seen by multiple health care practitioners.
As our members specializing in post-acute settings are already starting to experience, access to the CommonWell network is proving to be a game-changer for their clients. As other members specializing in post-acute care deploy CommonWell Services, the value of the network will skyrocket.
5. What makes CommonWell unique compared to other interoperability efforts in the industry?
CommonWell Health Alliance was the first vendor-led, health IT interoperability initiative of its kind. Our members build the capability to exchange health data into their software—making it possible for health care practitioners to work within their existing workflow. No single vendor can solve industry-wide interoperability on its own, which is why CommonWell relies on its diverse membership across the care continuum to improve cross-vendor interoperability nationwide.
Today, our Members span the care continuum and include provider organizations, federal agencies, State Health Information Exchanges (HIE), and still others. Even so, our mantra of “collaborative execution” — the focus on building a functioning network that can be used to improve care nationwide — is what makes CommonWell particularly distinctive.
6. Much of your career has been devoted to interoperability — what drives this?
First and foremost, interoperability in health care is critical to improving care delivery so it’s centered around the patient. We cannot transform the business models or experiences of healthcare without the enabling technologies that ensure the right data is available at the right time to the right person. I am thankful for the opportunity to drive such an important cause.
The pursuit of ubiquitous interoperability has also given me the opportunity to work with and learn from so many amazing innovators, and for that I am incredibly thankful. Across the continuum, many organizations great and small are tackling critical problems in care delivery today. We have been blessed with the opportunity to tap into their collective wisdom as we have built out CommonWell Services together.
Last but not least, I am thankful that many members of our CommonWell community (including WellSky!) shared their thoughts on #IHeartHIT for National Health IT Month. We like to articulate our community spirit through the expression “it takes a village,” and this is the time of year that most epitomizes that spirit, the spirit of CommonWell.
WellSky’s ongoing commitment to interoperability
In addition to being a member of CommonWell, WellSky recently announced its latest innovative approach to interoperability called WellSky I/O. WellSky I/O is a framework for interoperability that will provide clients with connections to local, regional, and national patient data exchanges, so providers can deliver even smarter care and improve patient outcomes. WellSky I/O is the interoperability infrastructure that powers WellSky’s enterprise solutions for advanced analytics, tracking of social determinants of health, and longitudinal care coordination in an integrated, patient-centered ecosystem.