The vision behind TEFCA has been in the works for years, pretty much since the formation of The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) back in 2004. The future of TEFCA indeed came to light with its inclusion as a mandate in the 21st Century Cures Act that was passed in 2016. (1) However, it wasn’t until this year that TEFCA became an operational reality. (2)
With TEFCA comes the objective of bringing together a combination of legal and technical requirements to enable the secure exchange of personal health information across disparate health entities operating on their health information networks (HINs). It will now be replicated throughout the country at the state and regional levels.
Once they meet the requirements, the national information exchange network will give providers, payers, and public health agencies – referred to as qualified health information networks (QHINs) a way to connect and share information. The initial data-sharing connection aims to enable patients and healthcare organizations to work together using the most up-to-date health information from all parties to provide the best care and treatments. Over time, the exchange will be broadened to include other information to help with benefits, payments, public health issues, and other operationally oriented activities that presumably help the patients and the healthcare ecosystem.
The official goals for TEFCA are: (3)
- Goal 1: Establish a universal policy and technical floor for nationwide interoperability.
- Goal 2: Simplify connectivity for organizations to securely exchange information to improve patient care, enhance the welfare of populations, and generate health care value.
- Goal 3: Enable individuals to gather their health care information.
As organizations begin to map these goals to business operations and start to unpack the details within both the framework and the agreement, they will likely realize that TEFCA is so much more than just being able to “share data.” TEFCA will introduce numerous high-scale data collection, storage, transport, and processing requirements for organizations to meet.
1 – “H.R.34 – 21st Century Cures Act,” Congress, Accessed on February 1, 2022
2 – “ONC Completes Critical 21st Century Cures Act Requirement, Publishes the Trusted Exchange Framework and the Common Agreement for Health Information Networks,” HHS, January 2022
3 – “3…2…1…TEFCA is Go for Launch,” HealthIT.gov, January 2022