HHS Marks Major Milestone for Nationwide Health Data Exchange
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), announced today that nationwide health data exchange governed by the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common AgreementSM (TEFCA) is now operational. ONC has led a multi-year, public-private process alongside its Recognized Coordinating Entity®, The Sequoia Project, Inc., to implement TEFCA, which was envisioned by the 21st Century Cures Act. As a result, patients will have increased access to their records, and health care providers and plans can improve their secure exchange of electronic health information.
HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm, National Coordinator Micky Tripathi, and other federal leaders celebrated the occasion at a signing event at HHS headquarters.
“After over a decade of very hard work, today marks another major milestone in our march towards a 21st century digital health care system,” said Secretary Becerra. “TEFCA allows patients, providers, public health professionals, health insurers, and other health care stakeholders to safely and securely share information critical to the health of our country and all of our people.”
The following organizations were officially designated Qualified Health Information Networks™ (QHINs™) today after completing the rigorous TEFCA onboarding process.
- eHealth Exchange
- Epic Nexus
- Health Gorilla
These designated QHINs can immediately begin supporting the exchange of data under the Common Agreement’s policies and technical requirements. QHINs are the pillars of TEFCA network-to-network exchange, providing shared services and governance to securely route queries, responses, and messages across networks for eligible participants including patients, providers, hospitals, health systems, payers, and public health agencies.
“In February 2023 we announced that TEFCA would be operational by the end of the calendar year, and we are delighted to achieve this goal” said Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., national coordinator for health information technology. “This would not have happened without tremendous stakeholder support, considerable investment of resources and expertise by the QHINs, and the hard work of the RCE and ONC staffs.”
“Designating these first QHINs is just the beginning,” said Mariann Yeager, CEO of The Sequoia Project and RCE lead. “Now, we hope to see the rapid expansion of TEFCA exchange as these pioneering networks roll-out the benefits of TEFCA to their customers and members, while additional QHINs continue to onboard.”
Common Agreement Version 2.0, which is anticipated to include enhancements and updates to require support for Health Level Seven (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) based transactions, is actively under development and scheduled to be adopted by the QHINs within the first quarter of 2024.
Attendees at the 2023 ONC Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on December 14, 2023, will have the chance to hear two plenary sessions providing TEFCA updates. Learn more at oncannualmeeting.com.