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EHNAC TEFCA Accreditation Program to Promote Interoperability

EHNAC, WEDI, and other organizations collaborated to launch a TEFCA accreditation program to advance interoperability.

EHNAC and other stakeholders are developing a TEFCA accreditation program to boost interoperability.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) recently collaborated with WEDI, eHI, eP3 Foundation, and several other healthcare organizations to establish a Trusted Exchange Accreditation Program (TEAP) to promote interoperability in a way that aligns with ONC’s Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA).

“This new program is set to leverage existing industry-wide frameworks and best practices in use across the healthcare ecosystem and align with many national efforts including the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONC's) efforts to endorse the 21st Century Cures Act and other federal requirements including TEFCA,” said EHNAC Executive Director Lee Barrett.

Barrett announced the formation of the accreditation program in public commentary submitted to ONC in response to the TEFCA draft. The final version of TEFCA is due for release later this year.

In his comments, Barrett referenced a statement from Principal Deputy National Coordinator Genevieve Morris pointing out there are many organizations utilizing older technologies for health data exchange that cannot be excluded from participation in TEFCA.

Instead, these organizations should be encouraged to adopt, implement, and utilize new technologies to enable more advanced, comprehensive, and interoperable health data exchange.

“In essence, we need to provide a roadmap for migration,” said Barrett. “This is a good strategy to not ‘exclude’ organizations just because they currently are using older technology but to incent them to migrate to newer technologies. This provides an architecture to allow for this evolution and implementation of the healthcare ecosystem to evolve too.”

Barrett also emphasized the importance of promoting collaboration between stakeholders to identify areas in need of improvement, close privacy and security gaps across networks, and address vulnerabilities related to HIPAA compliance, cyber protection, ransomware prevention, authentication and ID verification, and stakeholder trust.

TEAP will assist with encouraging healthcare industry stakeholders to adopt new technologies, health IT and health data exchange standards, and privacy and security requirements.

“As we continue to move forward with this collaboration, we invite the healthcare industry to join us in a very transparent, inclusive and open process to develop this accreditation program that not only aligns with TEFCA provisions but will continue the much-needed focus on interoperability as well as assure a trusted environment where privacy and security requirements are maintained,” stated Barrett.

“This new accreditation program is just one of several ways we continue to assist ONC and the industry as we move the needle in terms of interoperability,” he concluded.

TEFCA is primarily designed to give patients access to their electronic health data without special effort and help providers and payer organizations receive population-level health data.

The framework will also help to ensure the health IT community can utilize open and accessible application programming interfaces (APIs) to promote innovation.

Rulemaking part of TEFCA will also include a definition of information blocking specifically outlining activities that do not constitute information blocking.

“The rulemaking would also modify the Program through other complementary means to advance health IT certification and interoperability,” clarified ONC in a May announcement.

Some health IT industry experts predict information blocking regulations will significantly change the nature of health data exchange by requiring some health information exchanges (HIEs) and healthcare organizations to modify their business models to allow for less proprietary information storage.

While TEFCA is voluntary, upcoming information blocking regulations will be applicable to the entire industry. Reducing information blocking has been a priority of ONC since the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.

The rule is slated for release in September 2018.

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