Free EMR Newsletter Want to receive the latest news on EMR, Meaningful Use, ARRA and Healthcare IT sent straight to your email? Join thousands of healthcare pros who subscribe to EMR and EHR for FREE!

Will New Group Steal Thunder From CommonWell Health Alliance?

Posted on January 26, 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.

Back in March 0f 2013, six health IT vendors came together to announce the launch of the CommonWell Health Alliance. The group, which included Cerner, McKesson, Allscripts, athenahealth, Greenway Medical Technologies and RelayHealth, said they were forming the not-for-profit organization to foster national health data interoperability. (Being a cynical type, I immediately put it in a mental file tagged “The Group Epic Refused To Join,” but maybe that wasn’t fair since it looks like the other EHR vendors might have left Epic out on purpose.)

Looked at from some perspectives, the initiative has been a success. Over the past couple of years or so, CommonWell developed service specifications for interoperability and deployed a national network for health data sharing. The group has also attracted nearly three dozen HIT companies as members, with capabilities extending well beyond EMRs.

And according to recently-appointed executive director Jitin Asnaani, CommonWell is poised to have more than 5,000 provider sites using its services across the U.S. That will include more than 1,200 of Cerner’s provider sites. Also, Greenway Health and McKesson provider sites should be able to share health data with other CommonWell participants.

While all of this sounds promising, it’s not as though we’ve seen a great leap in interoperability for most providers. This is probably why new interoperability-focused initiatives have emerged. Just last week, five major HIT players announced that they would be the first to implement the Carequality Interoperability Framework.

The five vendors include, notably, Epic, along with athenahealth, eClinicalWorks, NextGen Healthcare and Surescripts. While the Carequality team might not be couching things this way, to me it seems likely that it intends to roll on past (if not over) the CommonWell effort.

Carequality is an initiative of The Sequoia Project, a DC-area non-profit. While it shares CommonWell’s general mission in fostering nationwide health information exchange, that’s where its similarities to CommonWell appear to end:

* Unlike CommonWell, which is almost entirely vendor-focused, Sequoia’s members also include the AMA, Kaiser Permanente, Minute Clinic, Walgreens and Surescripts.

* The Carequality Interoperability Framework includes not only technical specifications for achieving interoperability, but also legal and governance documents helping implementers set up data sharing in legally-appropriate ways between themselves and patients.

* The Framework is designed to allow providers, payers and other health organizations to integrate pre-existing connectivity efforts such as previously-implemented HIEs.

I don’t know whether the Carequality effort is complimentary to CommonWell or an attempt to eclipse it. It’s hard for me to tell whether the presence of a vendor on both membership lists (athenahealth) is an attempt to learn from both sides or a preparation for jumping ship. In other words, I’m not sure whether this is a “game changer,” as one health IT trade pub put it, or just more buzz around interoperability.

But if I were a betting woman, I’d stake hard, cold dollars that Carequality is destined to pick up the torch CommonWell lit. That being said, I do hope the two cooperate or even merge, as I’m sure the very smart people associated with these efforts can learn from each other. If they fight for mindshare, it’d be a major waste of time and talent.

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.