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Rival Interoperability Groups Connect To Share Health Data

Posted on December 27, 2016 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

Two formerly competitive health data interoperability groups have agreed to work together to share data with each others’ members. CommonWell Health Alliance, which made waves when it included Cerner but not Epic in its membership, has agreed to share data with Carequality, of which Epic is a part. (Of course, Epic said that it chose not to participate in the former group, but let’s not get off track with inside baseball here!)

Anyway, CommonWell was founded in early 2013 by a group of six health IT vendors (Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies and RelayHealth.) Carequality, for its part, launched in January of this year, with Epic, eClinicalWorks, NextGen Healthcare and Surescripts on board.

Under the terms of the deal, the two will shake hands and play nicely together. The effort will seemingly be assisted by The Sequoia Project, the nonprofit parent under which Carequality operates.

The Sequoia Project brings plenty of experience to the table, as it operates eHealth Exchange, a national health information network. Its members include the AMA, Kaiser Permanente, CVS’s Minute Clinic, Walgreens and Surescripts, while CommonWell is largely vendor-focused.

As things stand, CommonWell runs a health data sharing network allowing for cross-vendor nationwide data exchange. Its services include patient ID management, record location and query/retrieve broker services which enable providers to locate multiple records for patient using a single query.

Carequality, for its part, offers a framework which supports interoperability between health data sharing network and service providers. Its members include payer networks, vendor networks, ACOs, personal health record and consumer services.

Going forward, CommonWell will allow its subscribers to share health information through directed queries with any Carequality participant.  Meanwhile, Carequality will create a version of the CommonWell record locator service and make it available to any of its providers.

Once the record-sharing agreement is fully implemented, it should have wide ranging effects. According to The Sequoia Project, CommonWell and Carequality participants cut across more than 90% of the acute EHR market, and nearly 60% of the ambulatory EHR market. Over 15,000 hospitals clinics and other healthcare providers are actively using the Carequality framework or CommonWell network.

But as with any interoperability project, the devil will be in the details. While cross-group cooperation sounds good, my guess is that it will take quite a while for both groups to roll out production versions of their new data sharing technologies.

It’s hard for me to imagine any scenario in which the two won’t engage in some internecine sniping over how to get this done. After all, people have a psychological investment in their chosen interoperability approach – so I’d be astonished if the two teams don’t have, let’s say, heated discussions over how to resolve their technical differences. After all, it’s human factors like these which always seem to slow other worthy efforts.

Still, on the whole I’d say that if it works, this deal is good for health IT. More cooperation is definitely better than less.

Greenway Medical (GWAY) Keeps Momentum Post-IPO

Posted on October 23, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of FierceHealthcare.com and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

As readers may know, Greenway Medical Technologies is a health IT vendor that sells an integrated EMR and practice management solution, as well as interoperability tools.  The mid-sized vendor excited some criticism earlier this year when it decided to launch an IPO, as few vendors in its size class have done so to date. Naysayers argued that the moment wasn’t right for a company its size to compete with big health IT players for investors.

A few quarters later, Greenway’s stock is doing well, at about $18 per share, having started out at a $10 per share offering price. Analysts, myself included, aren’t surprised to see a well-positioned company in the ambulatory care space do well, but the $550 million firm has done better than expected.

Wall Street was taken by surprise by Greenway’s release of its 4th quarter results for fiscal 2012, in which the company reported revenue growth at 24 percent and raw profit margins at 60 percent (though overall profit stood at 16 percent after all other factors were considered).

What ‘s keeping the stock going seems to be nothing more than plain old fashioned dealmaking — and notably, larger deals that extend beyond lighting up one physician office at a time:

*  Greenway cut a deal with HIT vendor Relay Health (a McKesson subsidiary)  in which the two are offering HIE services.

*   Walgreens chose Greenway’s EHR to wire up its pharmacies for immunizations and health testing.

* Greenway snagged an agreement with Michigan Health Connect, the state’s largest HIE, to provide its technology for practices and clinics using the vendor’s solution.

If you’re seeing a pattern here, you’re not alone. Greenway isn’t just flogging its EMR/PMS to hospitals and medical practices, it’s providing the “last mile” HIE connectivity which has most providers scratching their heads.

Without a doubt, Greenway has formidable competition on the HIE technology side — a story we don’t have space for here — but it seems to me that the combo of having a EMR, PMS and HIE technology to offer is a huge plus.  Like the Wall Street folks, I’m interested to see if this combo keeps Greeway afloat. Things look pretty good at the moment.