Tag: Don Rucker

HHS Announces Next Steps In Advancing Interoperability of Health Information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today issued for public comment draft two of the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) that will support the full, network-to-network exchange of health information nationally. HHS also released a notice of funding opportunity to engage a non-profit, industry-based organization that will advance nationwide interoperability.

Specifically, the documents being released for comment are: (1) a second draft of the Trusted Exchange Framework (TEF), (2) a second draft of the Minimum Required Terms and Conditions (MRTCs) for trusted exchange, and (3) a first draft of a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) Technical Framework. These documents will form the basis of a single Common Agreement that QHINs and their participants may adopt. This Common Agreement will create baseline technical and legal requirements for sharing electronic health information on a nationwide scale across disparate networks.

Alex Azar

“The seamless, interoperable exchange of health information is a key piece of building a health system that empowers patients and providers and delivers better care at a lower cost,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The 21st Century Cures Act took an important step toward this goal by promoting a national framework and common agreement for the trusted exchange of health information. We appreciate the comments and input from stakeholders so far and look forward to continued engagement.”

In developing a TEFCA that meets industry’s needs, HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has focused on three high-level goals:

ONC will maintain the TEF, while a non-profit, industry-based organization, known as the Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE), will be awarded funds to develop, update, implement, and maintain the Common Agreement. Through this effort, ONC will define the minimum required terms and conditions needed to bridge the current differences among data sharing agreements that are preventing the flow of electronic health information.  The industry-based RCE will be tasked with developing additional required terms and conditions necessary to operationalize the Common Agreement and meet the interoperability requirements of the 21st Century Cures Act.

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DirectTrust Achieves ANSI Accreditation, Issues Call for Participation

Image result for Directtrust logoDirectTrust announces that it has received accreditation by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop DirectTrust Standards to enhance healthcare interoperability and identity using Direct exchange and trust frameworks.  DirectTrust also issued a call for industry stakeholders to participate in the development of DirectTrust Standards.

DirectTrust is a non-profit health care industry alliance created to advance the electronic sharing of protected health information (PHI) between provider organizations, and between providers and patients, for the purpose of improved transitions of care, care efficiency and coordination, patient satisfaction and reducing healthcare cost. ANSI coordinates, facilitates and promotes the development of voluntary consensus standards that are relied upon by the industry, government agencies and consumers across the United States and around the world. DirectTrust began the ANSI application process in 2018 and received notice of accreditation on March 26, 2019.

Scott Stuewe, DirectTrust president and CEO said, “DirectTrust and the Direct Project have always had a consensus approach to standards development. We’re thrilled to achieve this milestone of ANSI accreditation to ensure standards we establish to foster interoperability are consistent with the ANSI goals of transparency and balance.”

National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Don Rucker, M.D., added, “In 2010 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT initiated the Direct Project as a new option for the secure exchange of electronic health information. DirectTrust’s accreditation by ANSI is an important step forward for this decade-long public-private effort to advance interoperability nationwide.”

The DirectTrust Standards mission – to develop standards and specifications that enable and promote healthcare interoperability using Direct exchange and trust frameworks – grew from voluntary discussions and workgroup meetings that began in 2011 among stakeholders eager to develop standards suitable for the growth such an exchange approach. From its inception, the Direct Project was structured as a consensus-based standards development organization with participation from and the sanction of the Health and Human Service Office of the National Coordinator but with no affiliation with an accrediting authority. More information about DirectTrust Standards can be found at www.DirectTrust.org through selection of the Standards menu.

Call for Participation

DirectTrust also issued a “call for participation” for the Direct Standard Consensus Body, a group of industry stakeholders that will be created to develop standards while conducting discussions in according with ANSI requirements. Participation in DirectTrust Standards is open to any person or company that has a direct and material interest within the respective scope of the work of Standards development.  DirectTrust membership includes eligibility for participation in Standards activities.  Non-members interested in participation can visit bit.ly/DTParticipateStandards to complete an application.

Key Takeaways From CMS/ONC Officials Regarding New Interoperability Proposed Rule

Following the release of its proposed new rules designed to improve the interoperability of electronic health information, members of leadership from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hosted a call to provide additional detail about the proposed rule, and to answer questions from the media. The following includes the key takeaways from the officials hosting the call.

CMS Administrator - Seema Verma
Seema Verma

Seema Verma, Administrator, CMS

Don Rucker
Don Rucker

Don Rucker, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)

Eric D. Hargan
Eric D. Hargan

Eric Hargan, deputy secretary, HHS Office of the Secretary