Formation of the CommonWell Health Alliance

Published on April 3, 2013

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At HIMSS13 (recapped here), a group of the top healthcare information technology (HIT) vendors – Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies® and RelayHealth – announced formation of the CommonWell Health Alliance™. The alliance is an independent, not-for-profit organization that will strive to solve some of the longstanding interoperability issues that exist in the healthcare industry.

The mission of the organization is to promote and certify a national infrastructure with common standards and policies. In order to achieve this, the alliance plans to define and promote the following core services and standards:

  1. Patient Linking and Matching – Provide a way for vendors to identify patients as they move from setting to setting, in a robust and seamless industry-wide data environment.
  2. Patient Access and Consent Management – Foster a HIPAA-compliant, patient-controlled means to simplify the management of consents and authorizations for data sharing.
  3. Record Locator Service and Directed Query – Enable providers to match the locations of a patient’s previous health care encounters, no matter where the encounters occurred, and gain access to that data in an industry-standard way.

The alliance states that the proposed national infrastructure will bring healthcare providers improved data access, reduced workflow time, and reduced complexity. Further, implementing a national infrastructure and services will facilitate effective healthcare data exchange. Currently, the healthcare systems lacks an easy, affordable way to move patient-centered data across all settings of care and among different healthcare IT systems. This fragmented technology landscape creates barriers between patients and healthcare providers.

Interestingly, one of the leading HIT vendors, Epic Systems, was not included in the CommonWell Health Alliance. The privately-owned company generated $1.5 billion in revenues last year, and nearly half of electronic health records in the U.S. are Epic’s.


For more information about this newly formed organization, visit their website here.