Is this the right step in interoperability?
The healthcare industry is rapidly transforming with the adoption of healthcare IT and digital healthcare solutions. The Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) further bolstered this transition to a modern healthcare system. The TEFCA sets standards for healthcare data interoperability that enables healthcare providers, patients, payers, health information exchanges (HIEs), healthcare IT vendors, and other healthcare organizations to securely and effectively share healthcare data.
On Monday, February 13, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra and National Coordinator for Health IT Micky Tripathi recognized the first set of candidate Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs) that were approved to move forward with the testing and onboarding process under TEFCA. These organizations have committed to meeting a 12-month goal of achieving interoperability by joining the nationwide healthcare data exchange network created through TEFCA.
The approval of these QHINs marks an essential milestone in healthcare interoperability, as they are now poised to help healthcare stakeholders exchange healthcare data securely, responsibly, and effectively. This approval demonstrates the commitment of these organizations to facilitating healthcare interoperability and driving innovative approaches in healthcare delivery. The six organizations in the first cohort are:
CommonWell Health Alliance
Epic TEFCA Interoperability Services
KONZA National Network
In the future, HHS will continue to recognize healthcare organizations that meet TEFCA eligibility requirements for joining the nationwide healthcare data exchange network as QHINs. This ongoing process will help to ensure healthcare interoperability becomes a reality, and healthcare stakeholders can securely share healthcare data while also protecting patient privacy.
Establishing a national standard is an invaluable step that the healthcare industry needs to take to achieve success in interoperability. This enforcement will be instrumental for patient matching and, potentially, advancing us toward implementing a much-needed unique patient identification system.
As the industry takes this approach, my optimism is unwavering; I pray that it does not cause us to revisit the repetition of our current health information exchange structure.