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ONC to Implement Trusted Exchange Framework, Common Agreement

ONC is set to begin implementing the trusted exchange framework and common agreement outlined in the 21 Century Cures Act to advance nationwide interoperability.

EHR Interoperability

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Earlier this week, ONC announced a series of three public stakeholder meetings will soon take place to kick start the process of implementing the trusted exchange framework and common agreement provisions outlined in the 21 Century Cures Act.

“The 21 Century Cures Act, a bipartisan, comprehensive law, supports the discovery, development, and delivery of new treatments to maintain America’s global status in biomedical innovation,” Principal Deputy National Coordinator for Health Information Technology Genevieve Morris wrote in a recent ONC blog post.

“Cures calls for innovation in the seamless exchange of health information and lays out a path and timeline to develop or support a trusted exchange framework and common agreement to achieve full network to network exchange of health information,” she continued.

The meetings signal another step toward encouraging industry-wide standardization for improved health data exchange and interoperability.

The first of these stakeholder meetings is scheduled for July 24 and will be held in Washington, DC. The initial meeting will also be webcast to accommodate those unable to attend.

The second meeting will be webcast only, and the third meeting will consist of both a webcast and an in-person discussion.

“These meetings will allow us to gather information about successful network to network exchange of health information, as outlined in the Cures Act,” stated Morris.

During the first meeting, ONC plans to share the results of a recent analysis of the frameworks already in place designed to support interoperability in health data exchange between incompatible networks.

Additionally, the federal agency will outline the principles responsible for supporting and enabling trusted health data exchange nationwide.

Following the initial meeting, ONC will commence a 30 day public comment period during which stakeholders will have the opportunity to offer feedback on ways to most effectively support and develop the trusted exchange framework and common agreement required as part of the Cures Act.

The federal agency will institute an online process for comment submission and provide further information during the July 24 meeting.

The trusted exchange framework and common agreement implementation follows the Proposed Interoperability Standards Measurement Framework published in April.

The standards measurement framework was similarly designed with the aim of improving interoperability nationwide to enable seamless health data exchange between networks.

ONC developed the standards measurement framework to direct the development of the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA), inform updates to the ONC Health IT Certification 3 Program, and influence stakeholders in decision making.

Additionally, the framework was developed to reduce variation in interoperability measurement standards between stakeholders as the lack of consistency posed challenges to tracking the progression of interoperability.

Variations in product or network architecture, development decisions, information access, and standard implementation were highlighted as areas causing difficulty in information measurement standards.

As with the forthcoming trusted exchange framework, the recommendations outlined in the Proposed Interoperability Standards Measurement Framework were developed through discussions with various stakeholders, such as health IT developers and end users.

ONC’s focus on promoting interoperability and industry-wide standardization aligns with the likely trajectory of health IT development and policy in the burgeoning value-based care environment.

A recent assessment of the state of health IT and the driving forces shaping the industry by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka, MD pointed to interoperability as a priority for a majority of stakeholders.

Improving interoperability is a necessary step toward enabling better care coordination, population health management, precision medicine, patient engagement, and research.  

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