It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already almost half over. The CommonWell team –a dogged group of volunteers with unmatched passion and determination (for interoperability of all things!) – continues to lay ever-more-pipeline to facilitate health data exchange nationwide. Mark my words: being an open, collaborative, vendor-neutral organization is not easy. How I miss the corporate days when I had my own resources and could set my own priorities, and could more or less bring everyone else for the ride whenever I was ready to share what we’ve been up to. Of course, I’ve traded off that level of nimbleness for the impact that we get through collaboration.
In the four years since we first birthed CommonWell as a game-changing “Little Engine That Could” organization, we’ve grown from a small set of initial believers into a broad collaborative of more than 60 Members – including EHRs, PHRs, HIT vendors, federal agencies, State HIEs, and a variety interoperability NPOs. And because of (or perhaps despite!) that expansion, CommonWell continues to make good on its promise to make person-centered health data exchange a ubiquitous national commodity. Since going into production just two years ago, we have gone live at more than 5,000 provider sites. More than 17 million unique patients are enrolled in the network and about a million more are enrolled every month, and more than 50 million patient records are accessible.
Providers from across our seven currently-deployed EHR Members tell us that the information CommonWell provides about where patient records are located is making the difference on how they practice care. Unsurprisingly then, we are nearing the 100 million mark of record location requests being made and almost 100,000 documents actively being viewed since the beginning of the year. And we now have members offering patients secure access to their documents, tackling head-on some of the hardest challenges that HIPAA and 21st Century Cures pose for providers and HIT vendors. Not a bad start to our great journey. And let’s be frank: we’ve been live two years, half of our currently-deploying EHR Members have gone live in just the past six months, and several more are expected to deploy in the coming six months… we’re really just getting started.
So what’s next? Does CommonWell simply continue to add more vendors, add more provider sites, add more patients, and grow until it can’t grow anymore? No, not quite. Open, not-for-profit organizations like ours know that there will always be a larger community out there of whom we are just a part, and to whom we want to connect and contribute. So we have been supportive of a variety of industry efforts to improve data sharing. We believe that the more data that is accessible to providers and patients, the better care will be for everyone. In fact, that is why we chose last December to sign an agreement with Carequality to connect our network to their implementers. That is why we’re working with the more than 15 HIEs, integrators and networks that are already Members of CommonWell in order to figure out appropriate network-to-network connectivity models. That is why we continuously extend our knowledge and helping hand, where possible, to organizations outside of our Membership to enable them to grow productive relationships with us, to jointly transform our health system into one that works for the patient and the provider. We’re ambitious, but we don’t intend to do it all alone.
In the meantime, even as we grow our network and our relationships, you should look out for the continuous series of innovations in data exchange that we believe will further drive the vision that the patient’s data follows them everywhere, regardless of where care occurs. In addition to the Carequality, person access, and integrator announcements discussed above, we announced the advent of patient notifications through our network. All of these innovations will head into production over the coming year (actually, person access is already live, but in limited production), even as we build on community feedback to launch a new series of data exchange opportunities in 2018.
So CommonWell continues to rock and roll. We are doing good – no GREAT – work in helping improve the access to health data. I am proud of our members for continuing to lead the industry beyond the “static EHR” and into the realm where data exchange creates a new world of value in health and care, the way the internet created a new world of value in our daily lives.
Expect to see more updates from us over the second half of this year. Until the next one, enjoy the summer!