The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and the Sequoia Project on Monday released a preview of policies designed to govern a nationwide data-sharing network known as TEFCA.
ONC plans to launch the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, better known as TEFCA, in the first quarter of next year, the agency announced in July. TEFCA, derived from the 21st Century Cures Act, aims to improve healthcare interoperability by setting federally recognized data-sharing standards for state, regional and national health information networks.
It's a two-pronged effort, encompassing a Trusted Exchange Framework component that outlines a common set of principles for health information networks to abide by when sharing health data. That guides development of the common agreement, a legal agreement that participating networks will sign with the Sequoia Project.
The Sequoia Project, a healthcare interoperability not-for-profit that ONC tapped in 2019 to develop and implement TEFCA, on Monday released initial elements that it plans to include in that common agreement. That preview includes some of the definitions, exchange purposes, eligibility criteria, and privacy and security elements.
"The Sequoia Project, in its role as the [recognized coordinating entity], is working diligently with ONC to prepare a draft common agreement," said Mariann Yeager, chief executive officer of the Sequoia Project, in a news release. "Engagement by potential [qualified health information networks] and other stakeholders in the common agreement development process now is essential for successful implementation later."
The Sequoia Project is accepting public feedback on the common agreement elements through October 21, at which point it will work with ONC to finalize a version for implementation in 2022.
Under TEFCA, health information networks would apply to become a qualified health information network under the program and commit to following the common agreement. Qualified health information networks will be charged with routing requests for data and delivering the responses among providers and health plans.
ONC and the Sequoia Project in the summer also released a draft of a framework outlining the technical requirements participating health information networks would follow.