Anyone and everyone can talk interoperability, but CommonWell Health Alliance members are all committed to building interoperability into their software so that providers can work seamlessly within their existing workflow. Members have made tangible headway on that effort by focusing on four initial services that facilitate exchange:  identity management, record locator, consent management and trusted data access.

The notion that CommonWell would “sell data” is absurd, but especially inaccurate in light of our focus on these services.  CommonWell places the highest importance on patient privacy and security. We have not and will not ever sell personal health data. That is not what we’re about. In fact, our model is such that CommonWell will not have access to or hold any clinical data.  CommonWell has a limited right to provide its services, and merely acts as a broker.  A patient’s clinical data is always owned by the CommonWell member or its users, and we do not allow data mining of any clinical data.

As an organization committed to improving health IT interoperability, CommonWell was conceived and launched to foster collaboration among competitors.  We have a standing invitation to all industry members who support our vision to join CommonWell.   Inclusive collaboration is vital to interoperability.  We know that and we embrace it.

We also pride ourselves on transparency. We do not require prospective members to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). All members sign an identical membership agreement, which is found on our website for all to see. We also published our services and use case specifications, along with our overarching technology concepts to ensure the industry as a whole, not just our members, have visibility and access to our interoperability approach.

New members are adding their diverse experience across the care continuum to develop use cases that are breaking down the barriers that have stood in the way of efficient data exchange.  We’re currently working with our 14 members to expand use cases to include retail pharmacy, laboratory, home care and more.

Of course, the journey to interoperability requires more than experience and good intentions.  It requires resources.  Our efforts are funded through membership dues that are based on member revenue and are comparable to other organizations.  In fact, in most cases, our membership dues are in line or less than the dues members would pay to be a part of many comparable associations.

We agree with many of our industry counterparts that it is costly and inefficient to build point-to-point interoperability services. We believe the construction and ongoing improvement of a nationwide interoperability network is a differentiator in the market. Our service fees, which are separate from membership dues, are approximately one-tenth of one-percent of a member’s annual revenue based upon my experience with what athenahealth will be paying. Personally, I feel that is very reasonable, especially when you look at how it will allow my company to have reduced interoperability costs in the long term.  Our membership allows my team at athenahealth to forego construction of countless point-to-point interfaces to achieve interoperability for our clients with one connection across CommonWell participants.

CommonWell is a not-for-profit trade association open to health IT suppliers and others devoted to the simple notion that health data should be available to individuals and providers regardless of where care occurs.  Our results-oriented members are producing real-world interoperability services and making them available now.

Jeremy Delinsky, chief technology officer – athenahealth, serves as CommonWell’s chairman of the Board.