The Commonwell Health Alliance was announced at HIMSS in New Orleans in 2013.

This is an industry led initiative to achieve true interoperability. This represents an effort by a number of major EHR vendors to work together to achieve interoperability. Members of the Commonwell Health Alliance include Allscripts, Athena Health, Cerner, Greenway, McKesson, and Relay Health.
According to the Alliance web site “ The CommonWell Health Alliance will be designed to be an independent not-for-profit trade association organization open to all health information technology vendors devoted to the simple vision that a patient’s data should be available to patients and providers regardless of where care occurs. Additionally, provider access to this data must be built-in to EHR technologies at a reasonable cost for use by a broad range of healthcare providers and the patients they serve.”
The web site goes on to post “We believe that this problem of interoperability is best solved by forming an industry consortium to adopt common standards and protocols to provide sustainable, cost-effective, trusted access to patient data. We further believe this capability should be available across vendors and delivered “out of the box” to our clients and end users, relying on a national infrastructure to implement the services in a consistent and reliable way to ensure their ubiquity.”
If you have been following Health Information Technology, you may wonder why this is important. There are standards for interoperability, there is the direct project for point to point communication, there is the connect project, there is IHE with standards for Health Information Exchanges. So why is this announcement important?
There have been many questions from the public and members of congress as to the effectiveness of the funds that have been spent towards implementing EHR technology. This announcement demonstrates the commitment of a number of vendors to insuring that the doctors in the community can communicate and achieve collaborative care in treating patients. No matter what this organization accomplishes from a technological perspective, the statement of commitment from this group of vendors sends a strong message to the rest of the Health Information Technology, doctors, patients, and representatives from government that the industry is committed to interoperability.