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ONC Releases Trusted Health Data Exchange Framework Draft

The health data exchange framework is open for public comment until February 18.

Health Data Exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- ONC recently announced the release of its Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement draft intended to advance health data exchange and interoperability.

“This is really the network of networks concept,” said National Coordinator for Health IT Don Rucker, MD, in an ONC media call.

The proposed framework is designed to streamline patient health data access and exchange per provisions of the 21st Century Cures Act. ONC has been working to develop the framework and common agreement since the summer of 2017 through a series of stakeholder meetings.

“We’ve had three public listening sections, one public comment period, and literally hundreds of stakeholder meetings and emails and phonecalls from folks giving us feedback on how they think the trusted exchange framework should be developed,” said Principal Deputy National Coordinator Genevieve Morris.

The framework draft will be open for public comment for 45 days, with February 18 set as the final day for stakeholders to submit feedback. The framework consists of two main parts.

“Part A is principles for trusted exchange,” said Morris. “Which is a set of guardrails and general principles that are things health information networks should do to support interoperability.

“Part B is a set of minimum required terms and conditions,” she continued. “Which really gets into the legal language of how the participation agreement should be constructed to ensure health information networks can work with each other and talk to each other.”

Part B specifically addresses areas that have caused problems with exchange between networks in the past. While ONC has released a draft for TEFCA, the final framework will be built out by a recognized coordinating entity (RCE).

“An industry-based organization with experience will take the minimum terms and conditions and build it into a full, end-to-end common agreement that incorporates all of the various legal terms necessary to facilitate exchange between networks,” stated Morris.

ONC will select the RCE through a competitive bidding process to ensure transparency. The RCE selection process will begin later this year following the close of the public comment period.

Ultimately, the goal of the exchange framework is to build a single onramp to interoperability.

“As you move particularly from ambulatory to the outpatient stage, connectivity has been quite difficult for everyone in that area,” stated Morris. “So we want to build network to network capabilities that allow providers to join a single network and be able to get to all the different participants that they need to.”

The federal agency expects to publish a completed final draft of the framework and common agreement toward the end of 2018.

According to an ONC press release, the framework should support the following three interoperability goals: 

In addition to the TEFCA, ONC has also released a US Core Data for Interoperability Glide Path (USCDI). The roadmap is designed to broaden the types of data organizations can exchange through the framework. 

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