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Key Takeaways from ONC Health Data Exchange Strategy

The federal agency highlighted the top priorities, outcomes, and key takeaways during its first health data exchange strategy meeting.

Health Data Exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- ONC recently posted key takeaways from its first multi-stakeholder meeting to develop a national plan for standardizing health data exchange, otherwise known as the 21st Century Cures Act Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement.

In particular, panelists emphasized the need for seamless health data access, improved population health management, and competitive, open application programming interface (API) development to encourage further innovation.

More than 500 stakeholders attended the meeting, which included contributions from National Coordinator Don Rucker, MD, and Principal Deputy National Coordinator Genevieve Morris.

The recent meeting was intended to serve as a platform for members of the healthcare community to share information, solicit feedback, and outline desired outcomes and priorities for a trusted exchange framework to fulfill provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act.

This meeting is the first step of a framework development process expected to span several months.

“Your input in the months to come is critical as ONC moves forward with implementing Cures and we look forward to hearing from you—including during the current public comment period,” said ONC Office Policy Director Elise Sweeney Anthony, JD, on the official ONC blog.


During the meeting, Rucker highlighted three key outcomes ONC intends to accomplish through the health data exchange framework.

First, the federal agency seeks a more patient-centered approach to electronic health data. Specifically, Rucker emphasized patients should be able to view and access their health information online with ease.


Second, healthcare providers and organizations engaged in population health management should be able to retrieve necessary or appropriate data on groups of patients without having to access one EHR at a time for more efficient analysis of population health trends, outcomes, and costs.


Finally, Rucker highlighted the importance of fostering a health IT environment centered on open API development to promote competition between competitors. Additionally, he stated that API development should focus on enabling user-centered apps allowing for more accessible EHRs and improved EHR usability.


WaterRev and ViaCord founder Cynthia Fisher spoke on the importance of data liquidity. Like Rucker, Fisher asserted that a top priority of the framework should be enabling health data exchange for patient-centered care.


“The importance of the patient was echoed throughout the meeting,” wrote Anthony. “We heard from Carequality, CARIN Alliance, CommonWell, Digital Bridge, DirectTrust, eHealth Exchange, National Association for Trusted Exchange and the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative who shared how their organizations support the flow of information to benefit patient care.”

Commenters primarily expressed the importance of trust, interoperability, and patient health data access, according to Anthony.

Stakeholders also shared information regarding the current state of exchange frameworks and agreements in the healthcare industry, focusing on the similarities between various frameworks.

“Some of the similarities noted between the exchange frameworks included the ability to share information across disparate networks and principles designed to establish trust,” wrote Anthony. “Some of the differences noted included how organizations authenticate participants and reciprocate the sharing of information among participants.”

The 21st Century Cures Act Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement is now open for public comment.

The thirty-day public comment period started immediately after the first stakeholder meeting and closes at midnight on August 25.

In particular, ONC seeks insight regarding the development of the exchange framework from clinicians, policymakers, state and federal agencies, exchange service providers and organizations, providers in the private sector, and others. 



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