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Boston Children’s Benefits From the Carequality and CommonWell Agreement

Posted on February 3, 2017 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 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. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

Recently two of the bigger players working on health data interoperability – Carequality and the CommonWell Health Alliance – agreed to share data with each other. The two, which were fierce competitors, agreed that CommonWell would share data with any Carequality participant, and that Carequality users would be able to use the CommonWell record locator service.

That is all well and good, but at first I wasn’t sure if it would pan out. Being the cranky skeptic that I am, I assumed it would take quite a while for the two to get their act together, and that we’d hear little more of their agreement for a year or two.

But apparently, I was wrong. In fact, a story by Scott Mace of HealthLeaders suggests that Boston Children’s Hospital and its physicians are likely to benefit right away. According to the story, the hospital and its affiliated Pediatric Physicians Organization at Children’s Hospital (PPOC) will be able to swap data nicely despite their using different EMRs.

According to Mace, Boston Children’s runs a Cerner EMR, as well as an Epic installation to manage its revenue cycle. Meanwhile, PPOC is going live with Epic across its 80 practices and 400 providers. On the surface, the mix doesn’t sound too promising.

To add even more challenges to the mix, Boston Children’s also expects an exponential jump in the number of patients it will be caring for via its Medicaid ACO, the article notes.

Without some form of data sharing compatibility, the hospital and practice would have faced huge challenges, but now it has an option. Boston Children’s is joining CommonWell, and PPOC is joining Carequality, solving a problem the two have struggled with for a long time, Mace writes.

Previously, the story notes, the hospital tried unsuccessfully to work with a local HIE, the Mass Health Information HIway. According to hospital CIO Dan Nigrin, MD, who spoke with Mace, providers using Mass Health were usually asked to push patient data to their peers via Direct protocol, rather than pull data from other providers when they needed it.

Under the new regime, however, providers will have much more extensive access to data. Also, the two entities will face fewer data-sharing hassles, such as establishing point-to-point or bilateral exchange agreements with other providers, PPOC CIO Nael Hafez told HealthLeaders.

Even this step upwards does not perfect interoperability make. According to Micky Tripathi, president and CEO of the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, providers leveraging the CommonWell/Carequality data will probably customize their experience. He contends that even those who are big fans of the joint network may add, for example, additional record locator services such as one provided by Surescripts. But it does seem that Boston Children’s and PPOC are, well, pretty psyched to get started with data sharing as is.

Now, back to me as Queen Grump again. I have to admit that Mace paints a pretty attractive picture here, and I wish Boston Children’s and PPOC much success. But my guess is that there will still be plenty of difficult issues to work out before they have even the basic interoperability they’re after. Regardless, some hope of data sharing is better than none at all. Let’s just hope this new data sharing agreement between CommonWell and Carequality lives up to its billing.

iPad App Helps Patients Understand Inpatient Care Process

Posted on January 14, 2013 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare editor and analyst with 25 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. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or www.ziegerhealthcare.com.

During an inpatient stay, patients have usually contact with a large number of professionals, including doctors, nurses, x-ray techs, phlebotomists and more.  Without help, however, patients often lose track of who’s delivering their care, forget to ask key questions and generally fail to understand the process of helping them get well.

At Boston Children’s Hospital, they’re hoping to solve the problem with a new iPad app that guides patients through their care process and makes it easy for them to communicate with clinicians. The app, MyPassport, pulls data from the hospital’s Epic and Power Chart apps and displays it in a way which helps patients stay on top of their care process.  It also prepares them for discharge and arms them with home care instructions.

The idea for MyPassport came from a paper booklet which the hospital assembled manually, adding pictures and titles for every care team member as well as pages for lab test results and summaries.  The paper book, which also offered a place for patients to write questions for their providers and information about discharge, was helpful to patients, but took a lot of effort to maintain.

The notion of transforming the paper booklet into an iPad app was spearheaded by urologist Hiep Nguyen, MD, who won a Boston Children’s FastTrack Innovation in Technology award from the hospital’s Innovation Acceleration program to create it.

Not only does the app make it easier for patients to ask questions of clinicians — or in this case, parents of patients — through an instant message-like utility, it also displays lab values in a simple format understandable by caregivers/parents. MyPassport also offers a list of goals a given patient should meet to be ready to go home.

I don’t know about you, readers, but I think this is an excellent idea. Helping patients and caregivers understand and coordinate the process of care, know their clinicians and plan for discharge is a really great use of iPad technology. While the app is undergoing a small pilot now, expect to see MyPassport or other apps like it turn up elsewhere soon. Good show, folks.