The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued three documents for public comment that are aimed at supporting network-to-network health data exchange across the nation. The three documents are second drafts of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) and being released for the Trusted Exchange Framework (TEF) and the Minimum Required Terms and Conditions (MRTCs) for trusted exchange and a first draft of the Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) Technical Framework. The agency also published a notice of funding opportunity to engage a not-for-profit, industry-based organization that will advance countrywide interoperability.
The US HHS said in their statement that these documents will form the basis of a single Common Agreement that QHINs and their participants may adopt. This Common Agreement will form baseline technical and legal requirements for sharing electronic health information on a nationwide scale across disparate networks. HHS Secretary Alex Azar noted that the seamless, interoperable exchange of health information is a key piece of building a health system that empowers patients and providers and delivers better care at a lower cost. He further pointed out that the 21st Century Cures Act took an important step toward this goal by promoting a national framework and common agreement for the trusted exchange of health information. We appreciate the comments and input from stakeholders so far and look forward to continued engagement.
To develop a TEFCA that meets the industry’s requirements, The US HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has focused on three high-level goals, including provide a single “on-ramp” to nationwide connectivity; Ensure electronic information securely follows you when and where it is needed; Support nationwide scalability for network connectivity. As reports noted, ONC will maintain the TEF, while a non-profit, industry-based organization, the Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE), will be awarded funds to build, update, execute, and maintain the Common Agreement.