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Health IT Firm Taps CommonWell Network, Health Equity Data Sharing

A health IT firm has connected to the CommonWell Health Alliance network to create a data sharing platform that aims to support health equity.

Chicago-based health IT firm CareAdvisors tapped the CommonWell Health Alliance network to 
create an open-source data sharing service to support health equity efforts.

The health IT firm’s equity information exchange (EIX) combines patient medical information with human services data related to social determinants of health (SDOH) such as access to food, housing, and transportation.

The EIX provides access to more than 150 million patient records through CommonWell Health Alliance’s nationwide network.

“Blocking data is not good for any healthcare provider,” Paul L. Wilder, executive director of CommonWell Health Alliance, noted in a public statement. “Those who have been reluctant to adopt this technology are now seeing the gains from a coordinated ecosystem.”

“Connecting to a nationwide network helps to transform our healthcare delivery system and data access,” Wilder continued. “It allows safety-net providers to act big, while running small. Instead of owning the data, you have access to it, making it possible to know if your patient is taking blood thinners and allowing you to improve health outcomes.”

Focused on its health equity mission, the health IT firm took an open-source approach to the data sharing platform, which is hosted by the non-profit CareAdvisors Software Foundation.

Several members of the Chicago Homelessness & Health Response Group for Equity (CHHRGE) coalition have also begun to using the health IT. Member organizations are exploring pilot opportunities to support individuals experiencing homelessness.

“There’s a vital need to improve data sharing and enhance care coordination to at-risk populations,” said Stephen Brown, MSW, LCSW, director of preventative emergency medicine at UI Hospital and Health Sciences System and a member of the CHHRGE collective. “The patients we serve have received fragmented, uncoordinated care. This is about reducing misery and allowing people to thrive.”

Robyn Golden, LCSW, associate vice president of social work and community health at Rush University Medical Center, and a CHHRGE coalition leader, echoed Brown’s sentiment on the importance of data interoperability.

“It’s all about care coordination,” she said. “This is the way for us to demonstrate our commitment to the community and offer continuity of care. All of Chicago needs to be connected.”

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