HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology announced the timeline for implementing its interoperability framework, which seeks to facilitate cost-effective data sharing across networks.
ONC plans to have the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement's network open for participation in the first quarter of 2022.
"We believe that it's really important for the market to know the timeline so everyone can think about how they want to participate," said ONC chief Micky Tripathi at a Health Information Technology Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday.
TEFCA, a provision of the 21st Century Cures Act, is meant to close the gaps between state and regional health information exchanges and nationwide networks and spark competition by eliminating barriers to data sharing.
According to a February 2021 ONC Data Brief, nearly 50% of hospitals participate in more than one network and have to manage multiple network connections, legal contracts, network fees, and user workflows.
This year, ONC will work with The Sequoia Project—which acts as the Recognized Coordinating Entity for TEFCA—to host public engagement webinars and use industry feedback to finalize the first versions of the Common Agreement and Qualified Health Information Network Technical Framework.
Once these versions are published in early 2022, health information networks will be able to apply to become Qualified Health Information Networks, which agree to the common terms and conditions as well as the functional and technical requirements of exchange.
After this, they can sign the Common Agreement, and begin on-boarding on a rolling basis to join the Trusted Exchange Framework.
There will also be a HITAC meeting in October of 2021 dedicated to focusing on key elements of Common Agreement and issues of engagement, Tripathi said at the meeting.
In its release, ONC also announced that it awarded a funding round of $942,000 to The Sequoia Project to support its RCE activities from August 2021 to August 2022.