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Doctor Profile Data Exchange In Works

Data Commons hopes to make complete info about physicians, from name and address to specialty certifications, available through one online hub.

Ken Terry

July 30, 2013

4 Min Read

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A new information-sharing company called Data Commons is expected to ease the electronic exchange of physician profile information after it launches its product this fall. To make this data exchange possible, Data Commons is using the Healthcare Professional Profile of MedBiquitous, a nonprofit standards development organization (SDO) started by Johns Hopkins in 2001.

Among the founding members of Data Commons are the American Board of Family Medicine (ABFP), the American Board of Pediatrics (ABP), the Association of American Colleges (AAMC), the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG), the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), and the National Board of Medical Examiners.

In addition, Data Commons plans to invite the participation of all allopathic and osteopathic specialty boards, as well as that of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS), a company spokeswoman told InformationWeek Healthcare.

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The MedBiquitous Healthcare Professional Profile, a standard that provides a unifying language for credentials data, handles data ranging from a health professional's name, address, education and training to certification, licensure and other items, a news release said. It is already in use at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM), ABMS, ABP, the American Board of Surgery, the American Osteopathic Association, CECity, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and Medscape.

"The transferability of data across platforms is essential for the success of Data Commons, and in constructing our system it became very clear that the MedBiquitous Healthcare Professional Profile would significantly improve our capabilities in this regard," said Data Commons Board Chair James Stockman, MD, in the press release.

Up to now, a hospital or other entity that wanted to gather all of the publicly available information on a doctor had to go to multiple sources, noted Peter Greene, MD, executive director of MedBiquitous and CMIO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, in an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare. For example, ABMS has information on specialty certification from its member boards, including when a doctor was certified and for how long. FSMB collects data on licensure from state medical boards. And AAMC has information on undergraduate medical education.

Some of these organizations have reciprocal data-sharing agreements. For example, the National Board of Medical Examiners and AAMC were already exchanging information before this, Greene noted. But not all of the data that might be required for credentialing or other purposes was collected in one place. Even the American Medical Association Masterfile is not comprehensive; for example, it doesn't include anything about restrictions on medical licenses.

Many parties use physician profile data, including state medical boards, hospitals that grant privileges to doctors, and health plans that credential doctors for their networks. Physicians themselves need to gather this data and ensure that it gets to these entities in a timely manner. Data Commons is trying to make this easier to do, Green said.

"You wait forever in some states to get your license approved," he noted. "So it would be nice to make that simpler."

Other entities could also benefit from easier access to physician profile information, including researchers, policy makers and analysts, the news release said. The Data Commons hub infrastructure, which is being provided by MedBiquitous, will help researchers by providing the ability to combine and analyze data sets.

In addition, Greene said, Data Commons could help doctors apply for specialty certification or recertification. That's why ABFP and ABP joined Data Commons. "You could streamline the process of getting your specialty recertification," said Greene.

MedBiquitous itself is working on improving the profiles of physicians and "medical learners," he said, to help them with maintenance of certification (MOC). Many specialty boards require that physicians show practice improvements and increase their competence in certain areas over time as part of MOC.

MedBiquitous is developing new standards that will track physicians' ability to meet these criteria. Already, Greene said, the SDO's standardized activity report is being used to exchange information on practice improvements between the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Board of Pediatrics.

MedBuiquitous, which is accredited by ANSI, has a long list of members. Among them are medical societies, medical boards, medical schools, universities, AAMC, ABMS and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

About the Author(s)

Ken Terry


Ken Terry is a freelance healthcare writer, specializing in health IT. A former technology editor of Medical Economics Magazine, he is also the author of the book Rx For Healthcare Reform.

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