With the ONC releasing the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) for public comment earlier this month, many are applauding how this new framework will finally break down the barriers of health data exchange.
TEFCA aims to increase health information exchange in three areas: patient access to their health records, population-level data for analysis and research, and entrepreneurial innovation through requiring the use of open and accessible FHIR APIs.
This big question is: does it get us closer to achieving true data interoperability, and will the framework be good for doctors?
David Kibbe, President and CEO, was posed this question in a recent Medical Economics interview, and he had this to say:
Not in the short term, no. But it may raise the bar. TEFCA addresses specific types of exchanges of information between what ONC defines as “qualified [Health Information Network (HIN)].” If physicians live in an area of the country where there is a Health Information Exchange (HIE) and if that HIE becomes a qualified HIN under the terms of TEFCA, then they and their patients may find that this eventually increases the ease of access they will have to health information, and extends that access to health data stored in other qualified HINs across the country.
He went on to discuss how the framework could take several years to roll out. Much of this is due to participation in this new group of qualified HINs being voluntary. These HINs would have to sign a common agreement that would be governed by a new organizational entity called a Recognized Collaborating Entity (RCE). Selecting and funding the RCE will take time, and the framework is still in draft form for public comment.