The Sequoia Project, a healthcare interoperability not-for-profit, has entered into an agreement with HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to help the agency implement components of an interoperability framework, the ONC announced Tuesday.
Under the agreement, The Sequoia Project will serve as the recognized coordinating entity for the ONC's Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement.
TEFCA, a provision of the 21st Century Cures Act, details principles for promoting nationwide interoperability, including setting federally recognized data-sharing standards for health information networks. The Trusted Exchange Framework component of TEFCA outlines a common set of principles for health information networks to abide by when sharing health information, which will subsequently guide development of a Common Agreement for participating networks to follow.
The ONC, which released its second draft of TEFCA in April, has said that it plans to outline "baseline" technical and legal requirements of the Common Agreement, but would ultimately tap a private-sector organization to develop, implement and maintain it.
The Sequoia Project was selected as that entity after a "competitive process," ONC chief Dr. Don Rucker said in a statement on Tuesday. "We look forward to working in close collaboration with The Sequoia Project and across the broader health system to create a Common Agreement that best serves the needs of all stakeholders," he said.
The Sequoia Project will also work with the ONC to designate and monitor health information networks that join in the framework and adjudicate non-compliance with the Common Agreement, among other responsibilities.
"We have learned through our own operations that seamless nationwide sharing of health information is most readily enabled through trust agreements, consistent policy and technical requirements, and appropriate, balanced governance to provide assurance of trust and interoperability," Mariann Yeager, The Sequoia Project's CEO, said in a statement.
The ONC's cooperative agreement for the recognized coordinating entity involves a four-year award, funded at $900,000 for the first year, according to a notice of funding opportunity the ONC posted earlier this year, with funding in future years contingent upon availability of funds and completion of set milestones.