Connect to the Network
Organizations struggle to match patients and locate their health records as they move through care settings. Whether a person resides in one location or moves throughout her lifetime, a person’s health records reside in disparate health IT systems and care settings.
The CommonWell nationwide network and services enable organizations to:
Match a patient within the CommonWell network and locate their health records across disparate systems.
View a list of previous clinical visits and select only those documents they want to access.
Securely access patient clinical data at a nationwide scale from within the practitioner’s native health IT system.
CommonWell Services aim to enable health care providers to manage patient identity, link patients across organizations, and facilitate secure data access and exchange beyond one’s own system or community. Our services are essential to the exchange of health data along the care continuum. Contributor members are committed to ensuring provider access to the data is built into their technology.
CommonWell matches patients and links each individual’s clinical encounters across the care continuum to the individual in CommonWell. Unique to CommonWell, we allow the option for the individual to participate in the matching and linking process if they choose.
- Patient Portal – Provides the ability to allow a patient to enroll in CommonWell through either a provider’s tethered patient portal or through an independent PHR.
- Proxy – Enables individuals to be enrolled and linked by a proxy representative, as authorized by a practitioner. A “proxy is defined as an adult acting either as: 1) the parent or guardian of a minor, or 2) a guardian of an incapacitated adult.
Providers can search for patient matches across the country using the CommonWell smart record locator service. This nationwide service enables practitioners and patients to efficiently discover where a person’s data might be found by creating a “virtual table of contents” that specifies where patient data may be available.
A user of the connected HIT system can now:
- Link the patient’s local record to records at remote Organizations, enabling the remote practices to reciprocally retrieve data from the enrolling point of care, or
- Explicitly mark an incorrect match with a remote system or designate a match as incorrect in order to restrict sharing from that Organization, preventing this search result from being returned again in the future for this patient.
Linking confirms the record locator findings and connects each individual’s clinical records across care settings.
- Correlated Linking – Supports the automatic linking of patients to Organizations from which they need to receive care but may not visit by sharing and comparing patient identifiers. When identifiers are validated, CommonWell creates dynamic links between the two systems.
- Shared ID Link – Shared ID Link is an extension of the Correlated Linking functionality. CommonWell automatically confirms patient links for patients that have already been validated by other endpoints within a large health organization, allowing their enterprise/corporate MPI service to act as the patient identifier “source of truth.”
The data query and retrieval broker enables caregivers to search, potentially select and receive needed data across a trusted network. Once the patient identification and linking process has occurred, connected systems can request a list of available remote patient content using either XCA or FHIR queries. These actions are brokered by the CommonWell infrastructure to simplify the work required by participating systems. To the requesting HIT product, these transactions appear to be no different than a standard query against any remote HIT system, although the responses are being aggregated from many responding systems.
CommonWell uses the flows defined by XCA to distribute or fan out ITI-38 queries to all known remote systems where content for the patient is known to be available. Queries return aggregated metadata about all available clinical data to the requesting system where the requesting user can potentially select the data most valuable to them from a list, all within the familiar interface of the local HIT system.
When a user initiates a retrieval, files are escorted through the CommonWell network (but are not stored there), and their contents are only accessible by the receiving system.
Admission, Discharge and Transfer (ADT) Event Notifications, sometimes referred to as Encounter Notification Service (ENS), notifies subscribed providers when a patient interacts with another participating care provider. All admissions, transfers and/or discharges trigger a notification to be sent to any subscribed care provider who has an existing relationship with the patient. The notification includes the type of event, the name and location of the acute care provider, as well as the date and time of the event.
The service uses standard HL7 messaging to support providers who are sending notifications to the CommonWell platform.
- Care Coordination – Enhances the providers ability to coordinate a patient’s care, even in emergent situations. When any of the above events occur, the care provider is notified near-real time that follow-up care is needed for their patient.
- Transition of care CPT® codes – Supports reimbursable standard of care, so not only do notifications help drive better patient outcomes through close monitoring but there is also an opportunity for revenue for providers acting on the notifications.
CommonWell has governance, policies and procedures in which the adopters of the service agree to operate. While CommonWell itself never stores clinical data, the platform uses a layered security approach to help ensure the safety of the clinical and demographic data being transferred. Only trusted systems are permitted to execute requests against the platform.
- Facility (parent/child) Support – Support for organizations that manage the patient identification for one or more child facilities where care is provided. Allows the organization to track activity at both the parent level including all of the associated child facilities as well as at each individual facility associated to the parent organization.
- Certification Tools – An interface that facilitates and gives visibility to certification activities. Certification of member implementation is a requirement before deploying services to a member’s customers.
Permitted Purposes for Data Exchange
CommonWell enables participants on the network to use the services for the following permitted purposes to exchange data:
- Care coordination
- Proxy data exchange, e.g., minors, incapacitated adults
- Other treatment purposes per local and federal law
- Patient Access
- Patient portal
- Patient-facing apps
- Payment and Health Care Operations
- Payers & Health Plans
- Data Retrieval Service Vendors
See How Our Services Work
How to Get CommonWell Services
While CommonWell Services are in use at thousands of clinical locations nationwide, we are always looking to expand our services through new health IT vendors and have more provider organizations adopt and leverage our services in their everyday practice. We hope you will join us!
Technology Service Provider
Change Healthcare is inspiring a better healthcare system. It is a healthcare technology solutions company that uniquely champions the improvement of all the points before, after and in-between care episodes. With its customers and partners, Change Healthcare is creating a stronger, better coordinated, increasingly collaborative and more efficient healthcare system that enables better patient care, choice and outcomes at scale.
Operational Service Provider
DataFile Exchange is committed to promoting and servicing the automated exchange of protected health information (PHI). Building upon its extensive industry knowledge of the evolution from paper medical records to the digital exchange of PHI, DataFile Exchange supports providers, data retrieval vendors, records copiers and EHR vendors expanding from digital to automated exchange of health information beyond the treatment use case.
HITRUST CSF Certification
The CommonWell Health Alliance system has earned Certified status for information security by HITRUST.
HITRUST CSF® Certified status demonstrates that the CommonWell system has met key regulations and industry-defined requirements and is appropriately managing risk. This achievement places us in an elite group of organizations worldwide that have earned this certification. By including federal and state regulations, standards, and frameworks, and incorporating a risk-based approach, the HITRUST CSF helps organizations address these challenges through a comprehensive and flexible framework of prescriptive and scalable security controls.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have more questions, visit our FAQ page.
CommonWell leverages existing standards that members use to enable scalable, secure and reliable interoperability. Our service provider has built access to the services using the incumbent IHE standards (e.g., PIX for patient identity, XCA and XDS.b for locating and retrieving patient data) as well as the more modern HL7 FHIR-based standards (i.e., RESTful interfaces, such as the IHE MHD profile), thus allowing members to choose their preferred approach to connect to the network. Learn more at specification.commonwellalliance.org.
CommonWell Health Alliance was one of the first vendor-led, health IT interoperability initiatives of its kind. CommonWell members build the capability to exchange health data into their software, which enables health care practitioners to work within their existing workflows.
From a solution-specific perspective, CommonWell services focus on solving the foundational needs of record location, patient record matching and linking, as well as federated query of data at national scale. CommonWell services collectively allow individuals and caregivers to find and access records associated with a patient regardless of where the care was delivered.
The combination of network scale and the use of a Record Locator Service (RLS) is an important distinction for CommonWell. The RLS allows a provider organization linked to CommonWell to search the entire nationwide network in real time to gather comprehensive patient data—not just data from a limited geofenced location as other networks and frameworks offer. Watch to learn more.
No single vendor can solve industry-wide interoperability on its own, which is why CommonWell relies on its diverse membership to improve interoperability nationwide.
Currently, CommonWell facilitates the exchange of structured chart and encounter data, formatted as Consolidated-Clinical Document Architecture (CCDA) documents. CommonWell also enables the sharing of clinical narratives and notes. Other types of health data (e.g., Advanced Directives) are expected to be shared over time.
No. Neither CommonWell nor its service provider are allowed to sell data that is transmitted with the CommonWell services.
If the care provider’s EHR developer is participating, how can that provider begin to benefit from Alliance members’ services?
Care providers might utilize multiple products that are connected to CommonWell Services, enabling access to their patient’s records in multiple systems.