Carequality, a public-private collaborative backed by large health systems, technology companies and industry groups, has published guidelines that aim to build a path toward greater data exchange in healthcare.
The group released a framework this week for interoperability that will be used to help technology vendors, insurers and providers more seamlessly share data across electronic platforms.
Twelve undisclosed organizations will begin to test the framework with an initial rollout focused on exchanging clinical documents. The interoperability guidelines outline the legal terms, technical specifications, policy requirements and governance processes that organizations should adopt to facilitate health information exchange.
Even as the healthcare industry is adopting technology at a rapid pace, much of that electronic information still exists in silos. Electronic health-record platforms from different vendors don't communicate with each other, and medical devices don't automatically transfer data to a patient's medical record.
The result is that there's still a lot of manual data entry that's required—adding time, cost and potential for error—as well as duplicate testing because results aren't transferred from one system to another as patients move among providers.
Its members include health systems such as Kaiser Permanente, Dignity Health and Intermountain Healthcare; vendors such as Epic, Cerner and eClinicalWorks; and industry groups such as the American Medical Association.
The group itself is part of the not-for-profit Sequoia Project, which was created to advance secure, interoperable health information exchange and supports a number of independent interoperability initiatives. Sequoia also manages the eHealth Exchange, the largest health information exchange network in the country, which was incubated at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology before it was transitioned to the private sector.
Carequality said its framework is intended to replace the one-off legal agreements that allow data sharing between only individual parties with a broader industry standard.
“The beauty of the framework is that it's general; it can be applied to any type of content, and any technical architecture,” Dave Cassel, director of Carequality, said in a news release. “We're starting with document queries because those capabilities are widely supported in the field, but that's obviously not the last word in interoperability. The framework provides the governance and trust foundation required for any type of widespread connectivity in healthcare.”
Correction, Dec. 11, 2015:
This article has been updated to clarify that the Sequoia Project manages the eHealth exchange, the largest health information exchange network in the country, not that Sequoia is the largest health information exchange network in the country.