Sometimes I forget that I am the only full-time employee of the Alliance. You can easily see why that is if you read any of our most recent blogs. CommonWell is a community effort, and our members are also our leaders, our innovators and our biggest advocates:

Morgan Knochel from one of our newest subscribers – OneRecord – shared her personal journey through the health care system as she became her own patient advocate and ultimately benefited by being one of the first patients to access her health records via CommonWell.

MEDITECH, Brightree and Change Healthcare wrote about their leadership in building and leveraging FHIR in their software to exchange data through CommonWell.

Nick Knowlton, our membership chair for the past four years and a past and current executive at two CommonWell member companies, looked back over the last five years and highlighted how diverse the CommonWell membership has grown, now representing well more than 20 different care settings.

And Dr. Lauretano, CMO and practicing physician at Circle Health, made a presentation on a HIMSS Provider Community webinar regarding how he and his fellow physicians, as well as his staff and patients, are benefiting from being connected to the CommonWell network through both Cerner and eClinicalWorks.

You see, I am not a team of one. I am a team of many. Together, we have made great strides this past year, and we are just getting started.

Looking at deployment, we have more than 8,000 provider sites live on the CommonWell network with thousands more provider sites committed to using the CommonWell services. That is a 60% increase from last year – exciting! We also have doubled our members deploying services, including two members launching services directly to patients via their connected personal health record (PHR) service. And speaking of patients, we have enrolled more than 25 million unique individuals, a 5X increase from a year ago. During the past 12 months, the providers on our network have exchanged almost 8 million records, and their usage and engagement continues to expand.

From the beginning, CommonWell has always taken a nationwide approach, as pan-America interoperability seemed to be the biggest gap when we first began. Within our first few years, we had providers using CommonWell services in all 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico. Now, we are beginning to see trends in certain markets, like Lowell, Massachusetts; Columbus, Ohio; and Seattle, where we are seeing significant saturation of participants regionally. Our participating providers, like Dr. Lauretano at Circle Health, are becoming our biggest advocates, and we expect to continue to see a trend of go lives as providers continue to see the value in the access to this data and the simplicity of our record locator service doing the search for them.

We have also focused a lot on the value organizations, providers and patients get out of connecting to the CommonWell network. This quote from an athenahealth client in San Antonio, Texas, was shared with me less than a week ago:

“The CommonWell network helps South Texas Spinal Clinic coordinate care with no delay in treatment. Many insurance plans won’t authorize an MRI or a surgery until the patient has had six weeks of conservative treatment (physical therapy, medication regimen). With CommonWell, we can easily access the patient’s records from the primary care doctor or referring doctor and document what treatment has already been provided. This information allows us to move forward with the patient’s care and ensures we don’t need to repeat treatment. It also avoids multiple calls between provider offices, avoiding hold times, transfers between departments, increasing efficiency and provider satisfaction.”

– Angela Szymblowski, Director of Clinical Operations, South Texas Spinal Clinic, P.A.

Testimonial and anecdotes like these, which we now seem to receive regularly, are a constant reminder as to why the work that CommonWell does is so very important. It’s a critical enabler of the transformation of our broken health care system. Together, we are making our vision of accessible health data to improve the delivery and outcome of care a reality.

Looking ahead, we along with our members are focused on continuing to bring more members and providers onto our network. We also are focused on extending beyond this approach and looking at additional ways to connect as many providers to as much pertinent, usable data as possible to continue to improve care coordination.

In December 2016, CommonWell and Sequoia Project announced an agreement to increase health IT connectivity nationwide, including providing additional health data sharing options between Carequality and CommonWell. Since that announcement, our teams have been working closely together to ensure a smooth process for participating members. In fact, CommonWell recently completed the required steps to begin piloting Carequality connectivity with the initial provider sites. In anticipation of completing the process, CommonWell members have already secured pilot clients to participate in exchange starting this spring. Pending a successful pilot, it is anticipated that data sharing through bi-directional directed queries will be generally available between CommonWell subscribers and Carequality implementers this summer.

In addition to this important work with Carequality, CommonWell also is working to connect to other networks, system integrators and Health Information Exchanges (HIEs). We have received great interest in the CommonWell Record Locator Service (RLS) and in light of what could be affected by the ONC TEFCA (Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement) draft rule, CommonWell is looking more holistically at how non-CommonWell participants could also utilize the CommonWell eMPI, RLS and Connectivity Broker. As we have said from the beginning, our goal is a simple one – to get providers and people the data they need to get the best care possible.

TEFCA is likely going to impact the health care industry in a positive way over the long run, and CommonWell is supportive of the TEFCA vision, which emulates our own vision to ensure that the data follows the patient. TEFCA raises the minimum bar on interoperability from point-to-point connectivity to person-centered data exchange nationwide, eliminating data “blind spots.” And the TEFCA federated query model builds on the approach that CommonWell is already delivering nationwide.

In our comments submitted last month to the ONC, CommonWell shared its intention to become a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN). As outlined in the current draft of TEFCA, QHINs serve as the core for nationwide interoperability, with each QHIN connecting to all other QHINs via its Connectivity Broker, which includes an MPI, RLS and Query/Result Aggregation. Likewise, each QHIN connects to a number of different participants, like our current deploying members, who serve their own end users (providers, individuals, etc.).

As we gear up for this important commitment, it’s an understatement to say that 2018 is going to be a busy, transformative year. But I know that I will not be on my own for the journey. I have the power of many working with me – within our Alliance and across our industry.

If you happen to be at HIMSS18 this year in Vegas, I hope you will stop by the Nationwide Care Coordination use case in the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase, where seven of our members will be demoing live CommonWell services. I will also be speaking alongside member experts about a number of these topics on the HIMSS Interoperability Showcase Stage at 9:30 am PT on Wednesday, March 7.