Mercy Becomes Latest Healthcare Player To Launch Data Sharing Initiative

The technology arm of Catholic health system Mercy has launched what it calls a “data orchestration and insights network” allowing it to use and share clinical data more effectively. In so doing, it joins a growing list of healthcare organizations moving in this direction.

Working in partnership with SAP, Mercy Technology Services is bringing together a consortium of providers willing to share clinical data with each other. Using its infrastructure, MTS will help participants pool data together and use it to conduct advanced analytics efforts. For the time being, the network will focus on gathering orthopedic, cardiology and oncology data.

This effort could offer not just access to research data but also provide a new revenue stream. Once they’ve contributed data to the network, providers who participate in this effort will get paid for each relevant query subscribers make.

In so doing, MTS will also build out its own stash of de-identified patient data drawn from EHRs and other sources. Mercy contends that once things come together, it could develop one of the world’s biggest databases of “Real-World Evidence.”

The network’s subscribers, which include drug and device-makers, will get curated data, updated regularly as new patient records and encounters are documented.  In an unusual twist, these subscribers will also get detailed clinical practice level information and access to clinicians.

This is just one of a series of moves by Mercy focused on leveraging its data, such as a data-sharing agreement it struck with device market Medtronic in 2017.

Mercy’s announcement follows closely on the heels of an announcement by Cerner that it was partnering up with Duke to share data that can be used in clinical research. The Cerner Learning Health Network, which will automate data collection from EHRs and other sources, is kicking off its joint efforts with a pilot study evaluating therapies for chronic cardiovascular disease.

Epic, meanwhile, is engaged in a longer-term effort to build what it’s calling the “One Virtual System Worldwide” which will draw on the de-identified data of all of Epic’s clients. Epic has faced some obstacles as it tries to entice providers to participate, but the vendor seems committed to its efforts, nonetheless.

If these last few announcements are any indication, both providers and vendors are feeling confident that they’ve found a viable way to share de-identified patient data and in Mercy’s case, sell it as well. And they may be right. If nothing else, there seems to be plenty of demand for this kind of data.

It’s still not clear whether these models are sustainable, however.  Providers (and biopharma companies) want clinical data, but many providers would rather get than give. Until this imbalance Is addressed, these schemes are inherently self-limiting.

About the author

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.