Posted in Policy

ONC unveils Trusted Exchange Framework draft

Chris Nerney
Chris Nerney, Contributing Writer |
ONC unveils Trusted Exchange Framework draft

Seeking to establish “a common set of principles” that will enable interoperability among healthcare providers, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) on Friday released its long-awaited Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA).

ONC said the TEFCA is “designed to bridge the gap between providers’ and patients’ information systems and enable interoperability across disparate health information networks (HINs).”

TEFCA also is essential to ONC’s mandate under the 21st Century Cures Act to facilitate interoperability between healthcare providers.

In a media conference call on Friday, ONC head Donald Rucker, MD, referred to TEFCA as “a network of networks concept.”

TEFCA includes two parts:

  • Principles for Trusted Exchange (Part A)—This includes “guardrails” and general principles that Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs) and Health Information Networks (HINs) should follow to engender trust amongst participants and end users.
  • Minimum Required Terms and Conditions for Trusted Exchange (Part B)—This part lays out specific terms and conditions that will be incorporated into a single Common Agreement by a Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE).

“This is not really dissimilar from other network governance,” Rucker said. “I would look at this as coordinating things, rather than a lot of policing needed. I don’t think that’s how networks tend to work.”

The public comment period for TEFCA will extend through February 18, after which the ONC will review comments. Barring serious concerns expressed by healthcare industry stakeholders, ONC intends to release the agreement in the spring.

The final TEFCA document is expected to be published in the Federal Register and on the ONC website in late 2018.

ONC will host a public, online webinar to review the proposed policies, terms, and conditions contained within TEFCA.