As to patents, McCallie says "if there is patentable innovation that comes out of the work, then the agreement would be to share that license with all of the members of CommonWell. But it would be sort of a side-effect, if necessary. We're not seeking a patent portfolio."
Faulkner has also recently been quoted as saying that Epic provides the most interoperability of any EHR vendor currently out there. I've heard tales that Epic will go to great lengths to connect its systems to a customer's other IT systems, but vendor and customers seem to be eager to keep such efforts on the QT.
CommonWell's top priority is to kick off a pilot later this year, McCallie says. A second big agenda item is to create a 501(c)6 not-for-profit trade association. Additionally, a "bunch of different committees" are defining the interface between service providers and EHR vendors.
In the pilot test, the service provider will be RelayHealth. CommonWell has to choose a metropolitan location for the pilot, a city where providers are using a variety of members' EHRs. If the city is dominated by Epic (some are) or by a CommonWell member's EHRs, that wouldn't be ideal.
This stage of CommonWell's work will culminate in an update and status report at HIMSS 2014, McCallie says.
After they launch, some technology industry initiatives spend a lot of time and energy announcing additional members as quickly as possible. Not CommonWell. In the first 90 days, industry reception to the alliance has been "enthusiastic," says Dan Schipfer, Cerner vice president for government and industry relations. And yet, CommonWell has yet to announce additional members.