HHS’ ONC Welcomes Feedback on the Second Draft of Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement

The HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has published a second draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) and is accepting comments on the revised material.

The objective of TEFCA is to help create a smooth, interoperable exchange of medical information, which is crucial to the development of a health system that enables providers and patients to provide better and more affordable healthcare.

The 21st Century Cures Act presented a national framework and common agreement for the trusted exchange of medical information. The framework is necessary since there is presently no core exchange system that healthcare providers, vendors, health plans, public health agencies, and federal, state, local and tribal governments could use. Trusted exchange is very complicated.

At present, several exchange methods must be used. Most hospitals utilize three to four exchange methods and three out of ten utilize over five methods. This strategy is ineffective and costly. Healthcare companies need to build a number of point-to-point interfaces to pass on health data with one another. The Trusted Exchange Framework is going to lessen the need for personal interfaces to be created and preserved.

The five important objectives of TEFCA are

  • to produce one on-ramp for nationwide connectivity
  • to make sure electronic data is accessible every time and every where it is necessary
  • to create a competitive market to enable all entities to be competitive on data services
  • to help national scalability for network connectivity
  • to attain long lasting sustainability

Besides enabling healthcare entities to effectively exchange medical information, the trusted exchange framework provides essential benefits to patients, such as the capability to locate all of their health data that has been documented by several providers, even though they don’t recall the names of those healthcare providers. This will assist patients and their caregivers to take an active part in their healthcare and control their health data.

Right after the first draft of TEFCA was published, industry stakeholders sent ONC over 200 comments. ONC revised the Trusted Exchange Framework (TEF) and the Minimum Required Terms and Conditions (MRTCs) for trusted exchange after carefully giving thought to the comments. As a result, the first draft of a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) Technical Framework was also released.

These documents are the basis of a Common Agreement for QHINs and their contributors and consist of technical and legal specifications for the sharing of electronic health records nationwide throughout disparate network connections.

ONC is going to be in charge of sustaining the TEF and the HHS is seeking to designate a non-profit industry-based company as a Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE) to create, update, employ and preserve the Common Agreement. The HHS has declared the availability of a notice of funding option to engage a RCE. Applications are going to be accepted until June 17, 2019.

The HHS is accepting until June 17, 2019 all feedback on the second draft of TEFCA.

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Christine Garcia is the staff writer on Calculated HIPAA. Christine has several years experience in writing about healthcare sector issues with a focus on the compliance and cybersecurity issues. Christine has developed in-depth knowledge of HIPAA regulations. You can contact Christine at [email protected]. You can follow Christine on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChrisCalHIPAA