Think Locally, Connect Nationally
By: Didi Davis,
Director of Testing Programs, The Sequoia Project
Think of a highway where there is no guidance to regulate how drivers must operate while on it. It would be chaotic and dangerous, to say the least. The same is true for the information networks that health care providers and patients traverse daily. The Sequoia Project is a mission-driven non-profit focused on the real-world implementation of secure and efficient health data sharing nationwide. Interoperability on this scale is a multifaceted challenge, so The Sequoia Project has several, complimentary solutions.
The Sequoia Project
Most notably, The Sequoia Project supports the eHealth Exchange, the largest public-private health data sharing network of federal agencies, health systems, pharmacies, and other exchange partners. The eHealth Exchange was originally a program of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC). When the Sequoia assumed stewardship of the nationwide health information network exchange (NHIN/NwHIN Exchange) from ONC in 2012 the network was renamed the eHealth Exchange and has more than quadrupled in size. The eHealth Exchange is a health data sharing network, and it happens to be one of the largest in the country now. It connects participants across all 50 states and supports more than 109 million patients.
There are nearly a dozen data sharing use cases supported by the eHealth Exchange to date, but one of the most unique and popular is connecting the private sector providers and state and regional HIEs to federal agencies. The eHealth Exchange is unique in that it has a federated architecture, which means the network does not have a central hub through which all data passes. Rather, participants are able to securely connect and share data over the Internet in a standardized and seamless manner.
Of course, there are many health information exchanges (HIEs) available to providers, each fulfilling different needs and markets. Carequality is a network-to-network interoperability trust framework developed by a diverse group of representatives from across healthcare to connect existing and future data sharing networks to each other. This allows providers to securely share data with providers who are part of an entirely different network. In the past few years, Carequality has had tremendous growth with 1.7 million documents exchanged monthly and accelerating. Examples of disparate networks include vendor networks, payer networks, lab networks and others, such as the eHealth Exchange network.
Why is this important? Consider that today, many physicians already have access to a network through a technology vendor or a health data sharing network. However, physicians are often restricted to share data only with other providers in their same network. This is the equivalent of having a cell phone plan that only allowed you to call other customers of your carrier. That’s the situation for most healthcare providers today, when they join a data sharing network.
The physician cannot join Carequality directly (remember, Carequality isn’t a network), but when their existing network adopts and implements the Carequality Interoperability Framework, the physician will be able to share healthcare data with other providers who connect through entirely different networks, without additional special effort.
Health data sharing opportunities are dramatically expanded to include additional providers, payers, and other care settings, and others as the Carequality community grows. This in turn helps patients receive better care, increases healthcare efficiency and decreases healthcare costs.
Beyond these popular initiatives, The Sequoia Project is a leader convening industry and government to tackle the challenges to seamless exchange, such as how to exchange Radiology Imaging in partnership with the RSNA, our research and recommendations for improving patient identity management and matching across organizations among others.
I look forward to sharing at the IHE North American Connectathon 2018 more about how The Sequoia Project is driving national-level health data sharing capabilities that impact your local communities. There are many benefits to developing connectivity with different types of exchange partners – both down the street and across the country. I’ll share brief case studies to demonstrate the national-level health data sharing capabilities available today to implementers of the Sequoia initiatives.
More about the IHE North American Connectathon 2018
The North American Connectathon 2018 is healthcare’s largest, most rigorous interoperability testing event. Hundreds of industry’s top leaders gather annually to collaborate and test implementations of IHE Profiles and other world-class standards.
· Join HIMSS and IHE USA on Wednesday, Jan. 17, for the educational event held at HIMSS Innovation Center and the Huntington Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
· Learn more about IHEUSA and its mission to improve our nation's healthcare by promoting the adoption and use of IHE and other world-class standards, tools, and services for interoperability. IHE USA engages all levels of public and private sector participants to test, implement, and use standards-based solutions for all health information needs.