Today, CommonWell Health Alliance officially opens its doors to institutions who are committed to our vision that health data should be available to individuals and providers regardless of where care occurs, and that access to this data must be built into health IT at a reasonable cost for use by a broad range of healthcare providers and the people they serve.

Just over a year ago, the Alliance was formed with an unambiguous focus on rapidly demonstrating real-world data exchange and mitigating execution risks for our members and providers as early as possible. As such, we put a high bar on members’ commitment, so that membership would be centered on self-selected health IT companies who chose to heavily invest time, effort and resources to incubate and launch CommonWell and its services. Earlier this year, as we launched our services at client sites and refined the offerings, we began to welcome innovators who could help us to create the membership scale necessary for a self-sustaining Alliance even while we focused on execution.

Now, with our initial service launch well into its pilot phase, CommonWell is excited to more broadly open membership to all organizations – from health care providers and health systems to vendors and associations – who believe in our mission and want to help contribute to and drive its future. We believe joining CommonWell is a worthy investment for any company looking to improve ubiquitous interoperability in health care. CommonWell fills a crucial gap in our health ecosystem, going beyond influencing policy and standards. Rather, we are taking existing standards and real-world requirements and putting them into real-world usage. In essence, CommonWell is realizing ONC’s future vision of meaningful “find and use of health information to improve care quality”… and making it happen today.

All potential member organizations are invited to join at one of two self-selected membership levels: General Membership and Contributor Membership. General Members have the right to participate in and comment on the work products of Alliance committees and, in so doing, help to steer the future of the Alliance, among other benefits. Contributing Members additionally having voting rights on all substantial Committee decisions and will be looked upon to deploy CommonWell services to their customer base.

Today’s announcement is a big step en route to being a fully open Alliance, which continues to be intrinsic to our goal. Of course the job is not yet done. In addition to a large bevy of organizations that we hope will join the Alliance in due course, we have yet to open up the Alliance to individuals. Our approach there is similarly pragmatic: by opening up the Alliance today to a broader base of organizations, we expect to rapidly learn how to scale our onboarding and participation processes so that we have sufficient scaffolding to invite individuals later this year.

It is truly an exciting time in our industry and within our Alliance. We hope you will consider joining us on our mission. More details, including an application for membership, can be found here.

Jitin Asnaani, director – Technology Standards and Policy for athenahealth, serves on the CommonWell Health Alliance’s Operating and Membership Committees.