Healthcare Reform

HHS Announces First QHINs as Part of Push for TEFCA-Enabled Nationwide Health Data Exchange

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) announced Dec. 12 the designation of the first five Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs).

QHINs are networks of organizations approved by ONC to facilitate the exchange of data through the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) onboarding process.

The five announced QHINs are eHealth Exchange, Epic Nexus, Health Gorilla, KONZA and MedAllies.

These QHINs will provide shared services and governance to securely route queries, responses, and messages across networks for eligible participants including patients, providers, hospitals, health systems, payers and public health agencies in accordance with the requirements detailed in TEFCA Version 2.0. Version 2.0 of TEFCA, which is expected to require support from HL7 FHIR-based transactions, is expected to be adopted by QHINs in early 2024.

“HIMSS believes that the seamless, secure and ubiquitous data access and interoperable health information exchange is critical to realizing the full health potential of every human, everywhere,” said Tom Leary, the senior vice president & head of government relations at HIMSS. “Having a governance framework for information exchange is critical to establish trust and protect personal health information. HIMSS supports TEFCA and the establishment of the new QHINs and is excited to collaborate further with ONC to help expand the appropriate exchange of health data around the United States.”

The announcement, which officially indicated that TEFCA-governed information exchange was operational, was lauded by HHS Secretary Xavier Beccera in his remarks at the signing event where the QHINs were announced.

In a press statement, Beccera said, “After over a decade of very hard work, today marks another major milestone in our march towards a 21st century digital health care system. TEFCA allows patients, providers, public health professionals, health insurers, and other health care stakeholders to safely and securely share information critical to the health of our country and all of our people.”

TEFCA’s implementation, originally envisioned in the 21st Century Cures Act legislation, and the selection of these initial QHINs were the result of a multi-year collaborative process between ONC and The Sequoia Project.

The Sequoia Project’s CEO Mariann Yeager said, “We hope to see the rapid expansion of TEFCA exchange as these pioneering networks roll-out the benefits of TEFCA to their customers and members, while additional QHINs continue to onboard.”

ONC will host two sessions on TEFCA at the ONC National Meeting, which will take place Dec. 14-15 in Washington, D.C.

The HIMSS government relations team will attend the ONC National Meeting. Learn more about TEFCA, certification and other key policy issues related to the 21st Century CURES Act.

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