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CloudView blog

Ideas and insights to help health care providers stay informed and profitable in today's challenging health care environment.

Finding Common Ground with CommonWell... and a Code

by Jonathan Bush, President & CEO

Today, we’re taking two more steps toward our vision of building the nation’s health information backbone: athenahealth is proposing a Code of Conduct for the health IT industry and announcing our agreement to play a leadership role in the newly formed CommonWell Health Alliance.

Our proposed HIT Code of Conduct is a call to the entire health care IT ecosystem—vendors, C-suite hospital execs, policy makers, and HIT 'influencers'—to abide by a uniform set of high standards that providers should expect as they invest in IT and services to improve care delivery. This proposed Code of Conduct includes five basic principles related to data portability, patient safety, provider freedom of choice, and Meaningful Use.

Why are we doing this? Because we agree with the National Coordinator of Health IT, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, who recently challenged the industry to "step up" and agree to a Code of Conduct, that there are fundamental principles we vendors must adhere to in order to protect patients and empower HIT to realize its full potential.

That’s where the Code of Conduct comes in—and we hope you’ll sign on in support of this mission to work together to transform health care.

The second big announcement today is that we have signed an agreement, along with other HIT vendors, including McKesson, Cerner, Allscripts, and Greenway, to form the CommonWell Health Alliance, as a step in the right direction toward the open exchange of patient data across the health care system.

See any similarities between our proposed HIT Code of Conduct and the CommonWell Health Alliance? We had already gotten started on our Code when our industry peers came knocking with this idea of an alliance, and the timing could not be more appropriate. Our Code and the CommonWell Health Alliance both support some of the same basic principles: data portability, protecting patient safety, and avoiding unnecessary and sometimes harmful vendor lock-in.

We’ve built athenahealth on the vision that health care needs an information backbone that facilitates and incents true health information exchange. However, the promise of the free flow of health information and the reality of it today are worlds apart.

We support the CommonWell Health Alliance because we believe that being open matters, especially when it comes to patient care. CommonWell’s efforts to bring major developers together to pilot patient linking and matching across IT systems and care settings is an important step in the right direction. We look forward to helping lead these efforts as a founding member of the Alliance.

Will you sign the Code of Conduct and support us in our endeavor to make health care IT open and interoperable?

You can read and sign the HIT Code of Conduct here; for those at the Annual HIMSS Conference in New Orleans, we invite you to visit the athenahealth team at Booth #7229 to learn more.

To learn more about the CommonWell Health Alliance, please visit the Alliance's website.

Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of athenahealth.

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