The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is planning three stakeholder meetings to gather information on how to successfully accomplish network-to-network exchange of information using the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement provisions within the 21st Century Cures Act.

The first is an in-person meeting on July 24 that is full with nearly 100 attendees—it is also accessible via a webcast that had more than 700 registrants as of July 14. The second meeting will be via webcast and is expected in either August or September, and the third meeting will be in-person and webcast sometime during the fourth quarter of 2017. An initial public comment period opens on July 24.

The 21st Century Cures Act authorized $6.3 billion in biomedical research funding to achieve breakthroughs in cancer treatment, brain care and precision medicine to support population health management. However, ONC believes that the research initiatives need a detailed process for the seamless exchange of health information via a common process. The Cures Act designated ONC to work with stakeholders and implement a Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement standard for data exchange.

Among other issues, the first meeting will walk attendees through the process of a trusted exchange process. In essence, for providers and payers to comfortably exchange data requires trust—that the sender knows the recipient of data is Dr. Smith and the patient is John Doe, and it is safe to send the information, explains Genevieve Morris, principal deputy national coordinator for health information technology.

ONC also will explain results of an analysis of existing frameworks that support interoperable exchange across disparate networks, as well as the principles of trusted exchange. These include identity proofing to a reasonable level of certainty using guidelines from the National Institute of Standards and Technology; expectations for keeping information private and secure; and specific purposes for which the data can be used.

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ONC will use information from the meeting to publish a standard data exchange agreement and will publish a rule specifying in detail how to formally recognize data exchange partners. The rule also will give examples of variances in data exchange that make sense and variances that could inhibit interoperability.

The goal, Morris says, is to set a level playing field where everyone knows the rules.

Morris suggests persons preparing to attend one of the seminars look back through the ONC-published Interoperability Roadmap and get acquainted with trusted exchange principles.

Vendors and associations making presentations at the July 24 meeting to explain technology options and services available to providers include Carequality, CARIN Alliance, CommonWell, Digital Bridge, Direct Trust, eHealth Exchange, National Association for Trusted Exchange (NATE) and Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC). Registration is available here.