Brightree has announced plans for its home health and hospice customers to access more than 50,000 provider locations and health systems nationwide via the CommonWell Health Alliance, a nonprofit national trade association of health IT companies, and through CommonWell to Carequality, a national, consensus-built common interoperability framework.
Traditionally, home health and hospice agencies obtained critical patient health data manually from each of a patient’s other care providers. This required significant resources and often resulted in large gaps in patients’ records, hindering the speed and quality of care patients received. Through CommonWell, Brightree home health and hospice customers will be able to quickly and easily retrieve documents and data from a patient’s previous hospital and physician visits within their EHR solution. They can also share patient updates with physicians and other providers in the CommonWell network who serve that patient. This seamless information exchange will help home health and hospice agencies improve their efficiency, as well as patients’ care coordination and quality of care.
“What this amounts to is a smoother journey for patients moving from care setting to care setting, which is traditionally difficult to navigate,” said Nick Knowlton, Brightree vice president of business development and CommonWell board vice chair. “Our customers can now help provide a better experience more efficiently, which can lead to improved outcomes. By including this service in Brightree’s EHR offering, we are helping create a better future for our providers and patients.”
“Our mission at CommonWell is to break down longtime technological and process barriers so individuals and caregivers can access important health data efficiently, affordably and securely,” said Jitin Asnaani, executive director of CommonWell Health Alliance. “We’re thrilled to be welcoming a new wave of home health and hospice providers into the network, and commend Brightree for its leadership in this space.”
In a forthcoming Brightree survey, 60 percent of referring providers say they would select a post-acute care delivery partner based on their ability to interoperate with the referral source.
“Fluid data exchange is so critical to successful patient management across a system of care, and Brightree is leading in this space,” said Denise Schrader, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, vice president of integrated services at Mosaic Life Care in Saint Joseph, Mo., a Brightree customer.
For decades, the use of paper medical records was the “norm” and the sharing of those records with another provider typically involved a photocopier and a briefcase for the patient to carry them to the next doctor. Today, electronic medical records are becoming the standard, but the exchange of health data between disparate networks and software systems has remained elusive.
While some data exchange is taking place in health care today, it’s only occurring in isolated pockets, typically within one region or health system, making it largely ineffective. Solving this challenge requires transparency, collaboration and innovation for continued success–attributes CommonWell Health Alliance embodies.
Transparency across the Industry
Competition in almost every sector thrives on keeping information separate and technologies proprietary. However, for many industries – like banking, telecom and internet, working across competitor lines to exchange data has enriched and expanded their reach. Health care needs to take a lesson from these industries.
Working in data silos will not improve the exchange of health data; rather, it will create friction in the industry. Patients expect their doctors to have the information they need to provide them with the best treatment. Doctors struggle to access this important data outside their four walls. The industry has an opportunity to step up and make it possible for providers to access a three-dimensional view of the patient’s health history, and in turn, create a new wave of opportunities for the health IT industry.
Collaboration among Health IT Industry Players
Collaboration throughout the IT industry is essential to creating a ubiquitous nationwide interoperable Health IT Infrastructure. This focus on infrastructure will drive standard adoption and open up the gates to national record sharing. Electronic health record (EHR) vendors offering services across the healthcare continuum are a key piece of this puzzle, which is why CommonWell formed to join forces with all health IT stakeholders dedicated to the vision that patient data should be accessible no matter where care occurs.
Collaboration with the public sector is also crucial. The government plays a strong role in narrowing the technical standards in health IT, but the bar must be raised on leveraging real-world data exchange. Additional ONC activities are complementary to the existing Federal Advisory Committees (FACAs) as noted below:
Bipartisan legislation known as the 21st Century Cures Act—which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives this past July—includes mandates that systems be interoperable by the end of 2017 or face reimbursement penalties.
In early October, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) released its final draft of “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation: A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap.” The three overarching themes of the roadmap including:
Giving consumers the ability to access and share their health data
Ceasing all intentional or inadvertent information blocking
Adopting federally-recognized national interoperability standards.
The ONC has also formed a Health IT Policy Committee and Health IT Standards Committee which each include smaller workgroups that meet to ensure ongoing collaboration among the private and public sector. In fact, many members of CommonWell and other private-sector interoperability initiatives participate and/or lead these committees and workgroups.