Another CommonWell Fall Summit has come and gone. As one well-traveled member shared with me when we bumped into each other at the airport “…of all the events I attend every year, I love the CommonWell Summit because it’s so uniquely collaborative.”
I couldn’t agree more.
This year, we kicked off the summit by highlighting how CommonWell has completely changed the game in interoperability over the last 7 years. How we shifted the conversation from the movement of “EHR data” between care providers to the ability to care for “the individual” regardless of where care occurs. How we were the first to emphasize building interoperability into native HIT workflows because we knew it was necessary to make it work in the real world. And how we took something incredibly complex and continue to work together towards simplifying it for the common good.
We also talked about how CommonWell will continue this important work while adapting to align with national priorities. Our most likely future path will be to participate as a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) once the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) becomes finalized and to participate in the governance of the Recognized Coordinating Entity. In parallel and in support of TEFCA, we will strive to expand access to interoperable solutions by looking for new ways for organizations to connect and benefit from our network, as illustrated by our growing CommonWell Connected list.
This was the second year we were lucky enough to partake in the wisdom and guidance shared by Dr. Don Rucker, the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, who also engaged us in an extensive multi-level Q&A session thereafter. And for the first time, a few representatives from our Provider Advisory Council took part in a panel discussion to share key learnings and takeaways straight from the providers who use our services the most.
Our volunteer-led committees— Use Case; Standards, Technology & Implementation; Deployment & Utilization; Privacy & Security; Government Affairs; Membership; and Marketing—also participated in several working sessions at the Summit. In fact the original intention of the CommonWell Summit was simply as an “in-person working session”, and even now ~70% of the time spent by participants is spent in working sessions, not panels and presentations. These committees and working sessions are critical to our continued progress. We really pack an impressive amount of Health IT work (and fun!) into a very short two days.
Today, CommonWell has more than 80 members dedicated to breaking down barriers to data exchange. We have 15,000 sites live, 69 million unique persons enrolled, and 134 million documents exchanged on the nationwide network we have built, and all of these dimensions are still experiencing robust growth. Our work has never been easy. With one full-time employee and dozens of volunteers to keep the trains running as they juggle full-time jobs, families and other competing priorities, it’s truly remarkable to think about how far we’ve come. And along the way, we’ve embraced friendly critics, withstood naysayers and always taken the high road. I am insanely proud of the ethos and willpower demonstrated by this community.
As I close out my final days as Executive Director of CommonWell Health Alliance, this Summit has been such a bittersweet end to a wonderful run with an amazing team. A team of innovators that continues to expand and surprise me at every turn. As I’ve said before, I couldn’t be prouder of the community and culture that we have built. I can’t thank the community enough not only for their passion and drive with improving interoperability but for making this role one of the most fulfilling experiences of my career.
As I told my CommonWell colleagues last week, this is not farewell, not a time for “last good-byes”. Although I am transitioning out of the Executive Director role over the course of November, I still plan to be actively involved for many years to come.
So, until next time…