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CommonWell Health Alliance adds HIMSS, others as new members

A group created to expand the interoperable exchange of patient data between providers with different EHR systems can now count a few more healthcare organizations as members.

Less than two weeks out from its annual health IT conference, the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) officially became one of the seven new members of the interoperability group the CommonWell Health Alliance. In addition to HIMSS, ImageTrend, Inc. and and Mana Health also joined CommonWell as general members. The other new members of the alliance: Modernizing Medicine, Inc., MediPortal, lifeIMAGE Inc. and eClinicalWorks LLC became contributor members and will offer CommonWell’s features to its customers.

“The work by CommonWell and its members helps move the industry forward, and we are pleased to officially become a member, joining the effort to make nationwide interoperability ubiquitous,” said Tushar Malhotra, integration lead for eClinicalWorks, in a release.

Other CommonWell members include its founding organizations, four of which are prominent EHR vendors: Cerner Corporation, McKesson Corp., athenahealth, Inc. and Allscripts Inc. As the CommonWell Health Alliance keeps adding to its membership, the absence of EHR titan Epic Systems Corp. becomes more noticeable. Last year, an Epic employee attributed the vendor’s reluctance to join CommonWell to expensive yearly subscription and membership costs.

Conversely, Cerner’s deep involvement in CommonWell may have helped it in successfully landing a $4.3 billion deal with the Department of Defense (DoD) to update the DoD’s EHR system. Cerner, in partnership with Leidos, Inc. and Accenture Federal Services, edged out Epic and IBM to win the DoD contract. In an interview with SearchHealthIT, Colonel Nicole Kerkenbush, military deputy program executive officer for the DoD’s Defense Healthcare Management Systems, touted the importance of interoperability for military beneficiaries, calling it “non-negotiable.” While she didn’t directly state that the DoD favored Cerner over Epic because of the former’s interoperability track record, it may have been a consideration.