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Healthcare Business News

Interoperatibilty consortium CommonWell picks launch sites in Illinois, Carolinas

By Rachel Landen
Posted: December 11, 2013 - 3:00 pm ET

CommonWell Health Alliance, a not-for-profit consortium of health information technology vendors, has selected several sites in Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina to launch its interoperability service offerings for electronic health records at the beginning of next year.

The organization plans to add more providers and locations to its network, but for now, the effort is focused on participants in those regions, including Lake Shore Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chicago; Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital in Elkin, N.C.; Maria Parham Medical Center in Henderson, N.C.; and Midlands Orthopaedics and Palmetto Health, both in Columbia, S.C.

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“Regions within Illinois, North Carolina and South Carolina were chosen because they provide a good footprint of the alliance's founding member companies' health IT systems, along with a strong desire among clients to make interoperability a reality,” Jeremy Delinsky, chairman of the alliance board and chief technology officer at Athenahealth, said in a release.

Athenahealth, along with Allscripts, Cerner Corp., CPSI, Greenway Medical Technologies, McKesson Corp. and Sunquest Information Systems, formed the alliance this year in order to create a shared and centralized platform for patient and provider access to healthcare data, regardless of EHR system. The companies say they can improve the speed and efficiency through which providers are able to access patient data across disparate care locations, as well as give patients the ability to better control and validate their personal health information.

The consortium, announced at the February meeting of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, has because it omits some major EHR players, including Epic Systems Corp.

The venture comes as HHS is trying to push vendors and providers toward interoperability and the free exchange of digital health information through the meaningful-use criteria established under the federal government's incentive program for EHRs.

Last week, the government gave providers an extra year to meet the Stage 2 criteria for the program, which officials said was in part intended to help them satisfy the requirements for interoperability and health information exchange. That delay pushes back the start of the Stage 3 criteria, which are expected to ratchet up those requirements.

More than 426,000 healthcare providers and 4,642 hospitals have been paid close to $17 billion as adopters or meaningful users of EHRs since federal incentive programs were established under Medicare and Medicaid as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Follow Rachel Landen on Twitter: @MHrlanden

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