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CommonWell Allows Patients to Access Individual Health Data

CommonWell's new development will allow patients to access health data from all of their providers in one single place.

The CommonWell Health Alliance has  officially opened up its services to allow individual patient access to health data via its platform, meeting one of the primary goals of the interoperability and data sharing coalition.

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“From the very beginning, CommonWell has always been about the data being able to follow the patient no matter where the patient goes for care,” Executive Director Jitin Asnaani told PatientEngagementHIT.com in an interview.

“I believe it’s going to be the future. We’ve had the roots of this since we launched. We’ve always wanted to empower and further engage in the care of the patients.”

This new functionality will allow individual patient enrollment on the CommonWell platform. When patients log into the platform, they will be able to access and aggregate all of their personal health data being managed by CommonWell members.

This is a big step, Asnaani said, because prior to this development, patients were only able to view their health data one provider or patient portal at a time. Now, patients will be able to unify their data and view it via CommonWell.

“Until this announcement, there has never been an industry-wide effort to allow patients to go to any portal that they want to, that’s CommonWell enabled, and ask for the data from everywhere else, not just on that one system offered by their last provider,” Asnaani explained.

This innovation will benefit patients, technology developers, and providers.

This access will help improve patient’s lives, not only by helping them to view and understand their health data, but also by providing convenience.

Patients often need access to their medical records to report to other entities – physical examinations for certain jobs or programs, or medical records to begin a life insurance policy, for example – and waiting at the doctor’s office to retrieve those records can be cumbersome.

“If you can’t get [the health records], then you’re forced to go trek to that doctor, ask for the information, wait for them to print it out if they can actually get it to you,” Asnaani said. “It’s a frustrating and time-wasting effort.”

CommonWell’s innovation also has benefits for the health technology sector.  EHR developers have been trying to make health data access easier for the patient, but have faced numerous challenges, Asnaani said.  

Improving patient access to health data has been a long-time goal for CommonWell’s partners, but the idea of connecting all of these records together has been too arduous and expensive to do on their own. CommonWell has provided an opportunity to make those goals a reality.

The third beneficiary of this development are providers, who want to help improve the lives of their patients.

“I spend a lot of time with physicians and nurses, and they really want their patients to be able to engage in their data and to be able to get the data when they want it,” he said. “By making it simple and easy and accessible it creates higher value for them as caregivers by enabling their patients to have a better experience.”

While Asnaani said he and the rest of CommonWell are excited and proud of this development, they recognize that there is still significant work to be done in the future.

There are more vendors and patients to be connected, he explained, and it will require continued efforts to spread data exchange even further across the country.

“This is a big step, but it’s also just a step,” Asnaani concluded. “We hope to be doing a lot more in the future and announce a lot more as we start learning how well the service is working for patients and how they want us to improve it and continue building a bigger and greater network.”

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