DirectTrust, EHNAC merge to pursue info access improvement

Accreditation efforts of both organizations will continue, and new initiatives will look at efforts to improve consumer access and use of data.

DirectTrust and EHNAC executives say the merger will enable the development of new accreditation programs for data exchange.

Two industry organizations with pedigrees in enabling the exchange of healthcare data are joining forces to enable more seamless accreditation of information technology with an end goal of ensuring consumers can access and use their health information.

As part of the announcement on November 17, the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) will be merged into DirectTrust, effective January 4.

DirectTrust is a non-profit healthcare industry alliance created to support secure, identity-verified electronic exchanges of protected health information. EHNAC is a non-profit standards development organization and accrediting body for organizations that electronically exchange healthcare data.

DirectTrust executives say the merger will enable the development of new accreditation programs, especially credential service provider designations that will set goals for organizations related to consumer access and use of health data.

As part of the agreement, the EHNAC Commission will remain intact and be designated as Commissioners overseeing accreditation-specific matters. The DirectTrust Board of Directors will continue as is.

Existing DirectTrust and EHNAC accreditations will continue to be valid and recognized after the merger. Accreditations and accreditation renewals will occur within the newly expanded DirectTrust organization.

“We’re thrilled the long-standing relationship between EHNAC and DirectTrust is reaching its full potential with this merger,” said Scott Stuewe, DirectTrust president and CEO. The merger demonstrates “our mutual dedication to facilitating trust will enable both parties to optimize their complementary strengths to create new opportunities for trust and assurance in the healthcare industry, especially in the age of TEFCA. Our goal is to be the nation’s premier healthcare-focused accreditation, standards development and technical trust partner.”

EHNAC executives see benefits to centralizing standards and accreditation efforts, especially as the industry looks to encourage and accelerate information exchange. Earlier this year, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology put out a final rule for the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), which gives healthcare stakeholders new opportunities to proactively plan to improve interoperability across the industry.

“This merger of expertise, resources and technology leverages EHNAC’s accreditation programs as a ‘recognized security framework’ and is an inevitable culmination of the years our organizations have spent ensuring stakeholder trust,” said Lee Barrett, EHNAC’s executive director and CEO.

“By combining with the membership, standards development, technical trust and accreditation capabilities of DirectTrust, we’ll be able to further support DirectTrust members, EHNAC-accredited organizations, and the industry as a whole to navigate the privacy and security hurdles that continue to afflict healthcare,” Barrett added. “Additionally, we’ll be able to continue our combined focus on interoperability initiatives to assist the healthcare ecosystem meet industry initiative timelines.”

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