Success! The link has been copied to your clipboard.

Advancing Interoperability to Reduce Provider Burden and Improve Patient Care

Sample image
Sample image
  • Presenting a unified patient chart in workflow context
    Doctors can look up a patient's chart anywhere in the country with seamless integration into clinician workflow. There is automated connectivity with Epic hospitals and connectivity with non-Epic providers via CommonWell/Carequality. Figure 2 shows an example of patient data from multiple venues of care presented within the Acumen 2.0 workflow context.

FIGURE 2 | Acumen 2.0 reconciling patient data into chart

Sample image

(c) 2019 Epic Systems Corporation. Used with permission.

Sample image

(c) 2019 Epic Systems Corporation. Used with permission.

  • Offering patient benefits
    Information is available electronically on demand to/from Acumen providers and external providers, which eliminates duplicate or redundant labs and diagnostic studies.

  • Helping to transition to value based care
    Data from care networks and interoperability help networks improve quality performance and cost. Registries and robust population management tools identify patients with gaps in care for timely intervention and give new insights into high-risk populations.

What if you had a cell phone plan that only allowed you to call other customers within your carrier's network? That's the situation for most healthcare providers today as they are constrained within data-sharing networks with membership limited by geographic or technology (EHR vendor) lines (Figure 3).6 Epic's leading CareEverywhere network only works with other Epic instances. CommonWell is a competitive vendor collaborative that works with other EHR vendors that incorporate CommonWell standards into their technology.7 eHealth Exchange is the largest public-private network anchored by large federal agencies, educational institutions, and leading private participants such as Kaiser Permanente.8 Other regional HIEs and exchanges have geographic membership limitations.

FIGURE 3 | Fragmented data-sharing networks

Sample image

*Utilization data represents transactions from the January 2014 inception of Commonwell through September 2017

The Sequoia Project is a nonprofit, independent, trusted advocate for national health information exchange initiatives.9 It stewards existing programs, provides education, and incubates new programs. In 2018, the Sequoia Project recognized that it was unlikely any single network could serve the needs of the entire country, given the history of health IT. The Sequoia Project partnered with health IT leaders in public and private sectors to create Carequality.10 Carequality is a collaboration of the entire healthcare community formed to address the fragmented data-sharing network challenge. It is not a network—instead, it is a national-level, consensus-built, common interoperability framework. Carequality is designed to enable data exchange between and among health data-sharing networks. (By contrast, CareEverywhere and CommonWell are networks.) It brings together EHR vendors, record locator service providers, and other types of existing and disparate networks from the private sector and government to determine technical and policy agreements that will enable the data flow.

The most significant accomplishment of the Carequality framework is the "Golden Spike agreement" between the Epic Carequality and CommonWell consortium to implement this framework. Collectively, this agreement represents 90 percent of the acute EHR market and 60 percent of the ambulatory EHR market (Figure 4).

FIGURE 4 | Carequality "Golden Spike agreement" implications

Sample image
  • CommonWell has agreed to offer an implementation of the Carequality "directed query" connectivity to its members.
  • Epic has implemented Carequality for nearly 100 percent of its customer base.
  • Carequality has agreed to support access to CommonWell's record locator service.
  • Carequality has dramatically lowered friction for widespread "query" interoperability across all major EHR systems.
  • CommonWell EHR vendors offer Carequality query at no charge to providers.

Fresenius Kidney Care is developing core information technology capabilities to facilitate bi-directional data exchange between its dialysis facilities and external care providers. Using the Continuity of Care Document recognized standard, Fresenius Kidney Care clinical data can be exchanged and ingested by an external system. Fresenius Kidney Care is also establishing connections with the national CommonWell, Carequality, and eHealth Exchange networks. This will enable data originating from external patient care providers to be displayed in eCube Clinicals, a Cerner product, (and Fresenius Kidney Care's system in the dialysis units), to facilitate care coordination. This addition will allow illustration of Fresenius Kidney Care's benefit from the Golden Spike agreement.

Fresenius Kidney Care's initiatives with CommonWell, Carequality, and eHealth Exchange are advancing interoperability and data sharing with external care providers, resulting in a longitudinal record of care accessible by the dialysis patients' diverse care teams. Acumen 2.0 reconciles patient information directly into the nephrology practice EHR systematically, eliminating the need to fax information or log into external care portals. Collectively, these efforts by FMCNA aim to deliver on the promise of interoperability and workflow integration to provide interconnected intelligence.

Meet Our Experts

Senior Vice President, Chief Medical Information Officer, Fresenius Medical Care North America

Ahmad Sharif oversees clinical IT systems for FMCNA and formerly served as chief medical information officer for a Tenet Health market. He was awarded a full scholarship to attend classes at Harvard University, holds an advanced project management certification from Stanford University, and completed his master's degree in public health and management from the University of North Texas.

President, Acumen Physician Solutions

Sam Gopal received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, master's degree in industrial engineering from Purdue University, and master's degree in management from Harvard University Extension School. Prior to joining FMCNA, he held technology consulting, strategy, and product innovation roles in various industries including information management, defense logistics, semiconductor, and automotive supply chain distribution.


  1. Inker LA, Astor BC, Fox CH, et al. KDOQI US commentary on the 2012 KDIGO clinical practice guideline for the evaluation and management of CKD. Am J Kid Dis 2014 May;63(5):713-35.
  2. Marron B, Martinez Ocana JC, Salgueira M, et al. Analysis of patient flow into dialysis: role of education in choice of dialysis modality. Perit Dial Int 2005 Feb;25(s3):s56-9.
  3. Mendelssohn DC, Malmberg C, Hamandi B. An integrated review of "unplanned” dialysis initiation: reframing the terminology to “suboptimal" initiation. BMC Nephrology 2009;10(1):22.
  4. H.R.34–21st Century Cures Act, Sec 4003., accessed March 1, 2019.
  5. Epic—Care Everywhere page. Accessed March 1, 2019.
  6. Xconomy home page: software-epic-aims-to-help-patients-share-health-records/attachment/care- everywhere-commonwell/.
  7. Commonwell Health Alliance home page. Accessed March 1, 2019.
  8. eHealth Exchange home page. Accessed March 1, 2019. 
  9. The Sequoia Project home page. Accessed March 1, 2019.
  10. Carequality home page. Accessed March 1, 2019.