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ONC Trusted Exchange Framework Now Open for Public Comment

The ONC 21 Century Cures Act trusted exchange framework and common agreement is now open for public comment through August 25, 2017.

EHR Interoperability

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- ONC recently announced its trusted exchange framework and common agreement is now open to public comment.

On Monday, the federal agency held the first in a series of meetings, webinars, and public comment periods to support the goals of the 21 Century Cures Act trusted exchange framework and common agreement provisions.

The meetings are designed to provide a forum for stakeholders to share information regarding health data exchange and existing frameworks.

On July 24, 2017, ONC commenced the trusted exchange framework meetings by sharing the preliminary results of an ongoing analysis of existing frameworks and organizations promoting health data exchange interoperability across a variety of networks throughout the healthcare industry.

ONC also shared information with stakeholders regarding present gaps and challenges to enabling secure nationwide interoperability.

Speakers participating in the stakeholder meeting on Monday included National Coordinator for Health It Donald Rucker, MD and ONC Principal Deputy National Coordinator for Health IT Genevieve Morris.

Additionally, the kick-off meeting included brief overviews and a panel question and answer session regarding the National Trust Frameworks and Network-to-Network Connectivity. Panelists for the question and answer session included representatives from Carequality, CommonWell Health Alliance, DirectTrust, eHealth Exchange, the National Association for Trusted Exchange (NATE), and the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC).

The 30-day public comment period spanning July 25 to August 25 presents another way for ONC to crowdsource feedback from stakeholders.

In particular, ONC seeks comments specifying considerations, concerns, and success stories for health data exchange across different networks.

ONC intends to gain insight into different perspectives across the healthcare spectrum by soliciting feedback from a variety of industry insiders. This includes clinicians, policymakers, state and federal agencies, exchange service providers and organizations, providers in the private sector, and others.

“We anticipate subsequent meetings, and the next meeting is expected to be in the early fall,” stated the agency in a blog post. “These meetings, in addition to the public comment period, will help us gather more information about successful network-to-network exchange of health information, as outlined in the Cures Act.”

An optional online form is now available on ONC’s website for the public to use for comment submissions.

Commenters can also opt to submit unstructured comments or use the online form in conjunction with longer narrative cover pages.

In a press conference held earlier this month, ONC officials appointed by the Trump Administration said that the federal agency’s priorities moving forward would focus on advancing EHR usability and interoperability.

Improvements in interoperability in particular will hinge on building strategies around existing objectives and guidelines set forth by ONC as early as 2015.

“The way that we’re thinking about interoperability right now is basically as four targets: technical, trust, financial, and workforce,” said ONC’s Genevieve Morris.

Taking feedback from industry stakeholders through public meetings and panel discussions, such as the trusted exchange framework meetings, will help ONC develop a fuller picture of the specific issues facing health IT developers, policymakers, and individual providers.

The federal agency will also rely heavily on the ONC Interoperability Roadmap of 2015.

“We are going to be building strategies around those four targets, but making sure that we’re pulling in from the roadmap the items that haven’t been accomplished yet but still need to be accomplished in order to move us forward,” said Morris at the press conference.

“A lot of the way we’re attacking interoperability problems aligns with how we organized the roadmap to start with,” she added.

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