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A New Era in Health Care Data

New agreement seeks to improve patient access to records, security across health care system

December 13, 2023

Federal health leaders this week lauded the launch of a new nationwide network to ensure health care data can be shared securely and safely to support patient care.

On Tuesday, leaders from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) discussed the launch of a nationwide health data exchange governed by the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). The new agreement seeks to give patients access to their health records across the U.S., while ensuring a secure exchange of information across the health care system, federal officials said.

"In so many ways, I feel like we're watching the Big Bang occur in 2023," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said during an event yesterday.

Here's what you need to know:

  • About the initiative:  The 21st Century Cures Act called for the creation of a “network of networks” to facilitate sharing of health records across providers and other health care organizations.
  • The issue:  Health care and patient information have transitioned into the digital age, but the sharing of this health information is not seamless across the system. The overall goal is for universal, nationwide interoperability.
  • The agreement:  TEFCA provides a common set of rules and protocols that different health networks must abide by to securely share information with one another, creating trust within the network of networks.
  • Next steps:  Five organizations (eHealth Exchange, Epic Nexus, Health Gorilla, KONZA, MedAllies) have completed their TEFCA onboarding and are officially Qualified Health Information Networks.
    • These organizations can begin supporting the exchange of data under the common agreement’s policies and technical requirements.
    • Leaders said they also would also focus on growing the number of providers in the TEFCA network.
  • Quotable:  “After over a decade of very hard work, today marks another major milestone in our march towards a 21st century digital health care system,” Becerra said. “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.”

Additional information about the launch of TEFCA is available online.

Throughout the year, HAP convenes its Data Strategy Advisory Board to discuss the latest in health data information sharing across Pennsylvania. For more information, contact Sushma Sharma, PhD, vice president, heath care research and director, HAP Center for Health Policy Research.