While we have made notable headway toward interoperability through health information exchange solutions, we must dramatically accelerate our progress to support the transition to value-based care and realize our full potential as an industry.
With this vision in mind, McKesson, Cerner and other leading healthcare IT companies announced the CommonWell Health Alliance last year at HIMSS13. Members of the Alliance are united by a shared commitment to develop a core set of interoperability services and standards that will enable patient data to be shared securely across care settings and electronic health record (EHR) platforms.
In the twelve months since, tremendous progress has been made in making this aspiration a reality. CommonWell is running robust initial projects and collaborating with a myriad of practices. We’re also continuing to expand with new members who share our ideal of the trusted exchange of patient data, regardless of vendor, system, or setting.
Now, the Alliance is welcoming its first pharmacy member in CVS Caremark. This is a watershed event for several reasons.
CVS Caremark is one of the nation’s largest retail pharmacy chains and pharmacy benefit management companies. Few organizations in any segment of healthcare have more access to patient data and more trusted influence.
But CVS Caremark’s role in driving innovation in our healthcare system, and its importance to the goal of interoperability, is vital for other reasons.
As a leader in pharmaceutical care, CVS Caremark is helping establish a broader and more meaningful role for pharmacy in the overall care process.
In our current system, pharmacists remain an under-utilized asset, not practicing at the “top of their license.” At McKesson, we believe that pharmacy represents one of the greatest untapped resources in the coordinated and connected care world we must create.
Today, our costliest and most dependent patients are the elderly and the chronically ill, many of whom face significant challenges with medical adherence. Pharmacists interact with these patients more than any other care provider, so who better to provide adherence support? Pharmacies also represent a lower cost care setting that can help bridge the gap in our nation’s looming clinician shortage.
In a true value-based healthcare system, pharmacists offer a critical access point for coordinating all providers and stakeholders around the patient, while giving healthcare consumers uniquely personal and dependable health and wellness guidance.
By joining CommonWell, CVS Caremark is leading the way toward a future in which pharmacy operates as a critical access point to quality, cost-effective patient care. What’s more, CVS Caremark’s decision to join CommonWell reinforces one of the core principles underlying the Alliance—namely, that we must collaborate across boundaries and support open standards to achieve the next level of innovation in our industry.
In the healthcare system of tomorrow, all stakeholders will need to practice at the top of their game, including health systems, national pharmacy chains and payers, as well as community hospitals, physician clinics, ambulatory services, neighborhood pharmacists and even patients themselves.
Supporting interoperability across the system is not the end goal. Instead, it represents the foundation for a new era of innovation and growth, and, ultimately, better health for all.
John H. Hammergren is Chairman, President and CEO of McKesson Corporation.