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McKesson Makes Push for Healthcare Interoperability

The health IT company has unveiled a new solution to make healthcare interoperability "virtually effortless."

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- McKesson Health Solutions announced the launch of a healthcare interoperability platform, the Intelligence Hub, with the aim of automating and streamlining claims reimbursement for providers, payers, and vendors.

Healthcare interoperability at McKesson

Using open standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), the company claims to have achieve "near plug-and-play" functionality with the purpose of allowing payers and payers to continue the use of existing IT and integrate new systems into their current IT infrastructure.

"Our customers want to rapidly connect applications, whether home grown or third-party, with the strategic MHS platforms they use or specific services of those applications they want to use," McKesson Health Solutions President Rod O’Reilly said in a public statement. "The Intelligence Hub is all about making interoperability virtually effortless across our portfolio and our customers’ portfolios, so we can break down silos, and make automated reimbursement as streamlined as it can be."

Leveraging the cloud services and application programming interfaces, the health IT interoperability solution has the primary aim of connecting McKesson's own solutions, but its design is supposed to result in "little to no custom coding required" for connecting with a healthcare organization's own proprietary or third-party solutions.

"Our investment in the Intelligence Hub represents a new way to think about how to come at the problems we’re trying to solve as an industry, as we journey together to make full value-based reimbursement a reality," added SVP, CIO, SVO Mike Wood.

READ MORE: Group Recommends Faster Paths to Health IT Interoperability

“Interoperability is about more than just moving data from one application to another,” he maintained. “It's about how applications cooperate and work together to solve problems as composite solutions. And it’s a paradigm shift in the development and business culture of our organization, in order to create an ecosystem that makes it easy to engage the business logic in historically separate, siloed applications."

The release of a healthcare interoperability solution represents an about-face following speculation that its parent company McKesson would be exiting the health IT marketplace stage left.

A June 2 report in the Wall Street Journal claim the company was considering a sale of its health IT division and products in order to address pricing pressures on its core drug-distribution business. Ultimately, it instead sought a merger with Change Healthcare to form a new health IT venture.

Earlier this year, McKesson offloaded a sizeable portion of its ambulatory EHR technology to EHR vendor e-MDs, increasing the latter’s number of ambulatory EHR providers to 55,000. The announcement specifically mentioned six products as part of its expanded health IT lineup. In efforts to pare down its health IT units, the company also sold its care management unit to Comvest Partners.

In retrospect, these maneuvers by McKesson appear to have freed the company to focus on healthcare interoperability and other growth areas in the health IT marketplace.

READ MORE: Healthcare Providers Enthusiastic About Future API Adoption

And it's high time, too. Longtime competitors in the EHR marketplace are also setting their sights on healthcare interoperability. For instance, Epic Systems continues to make headway in connecting Epic and non-Epic customers via the Carequality Interoperability Framework, which helps limit variation in health data exchange.

"We do see some variation, not surprisingly, among us and other vendors, which is one of the things that Carequality helps to solve because they specify fairly precisely how you should implement the record exchange," Epic's Vice President of Interoperability Peter DeVault recently told HealthITInteroperability.com. "Rather than one vendor saying to another, 'You've done it wrong,' and vice versa, it's a neutral convening ground where we can all work out those issues and point back to that standardization process."

Epic also scored a key contract with Nebraska Medicine to furnish the latter with a population health solution with the purpose of integrating EHR technology used by the health network's physicians.

"By creating a physician network and investing in the country’s leading population health platform, we believe we can strengthen communication and coordination across hospitals and private practices to make sure the right things get done at the right time," said Nebraska Medicine's Chief Transformation Officer Michael Ash, MD.

The movement of health IT vendors from EHR adoption to healthcare interoperability is both a sign of the times and of things to come as the healthcare industry transitions to value-based care and works to improve care coordination, patient outcomes, and healthcare costs.

READ MORE: WEDI: EHR Integration Necessary for Leveraging Genomic Data

Dig Deeper:

Potential for Healthcare APIs to Revolutionize the Industry
How Behavioral Health Complicates Health Data Exchange


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