According to ONC, the draft framework will be available until February 18 for public comment. Once the comments are evaluated, ONC will choose a Recognized Coordinating Entity—essentially an industry organization that will use the framework to develop a common agreement that health networks and their participants will voluntarily agree to adopt. The final agreement will be released for public comment with the goal of having the final rule approved and published this year.
The draft framework was based on existing health networks and their agreements, and was created to establish a minimum number of steps that must be done to facilitate information exchanges between networks. “We are using technology and servers that exist,” says Rucker. “This is not something of necessity where we need a totally different infrastructure. This is the root goal of the Trusted Exchange Framework—to reuse as much is out there as possible.”
Rucker says that the proposed framework does not change current HIPAA requirements or protections, and Morris notes that every effort was made to protect patient data through several security protocols. ONC has also released guidelines to identify a path toward broadening the data that can be exchanged via the framework.
“The draft Trusted Exchange Framework we issued today reflects the successes and challenges already existing in the exchange of health information and is designed to help guide the nation on its path to interoperability for all,” says Rucker. “The principles and direction we released today, combined with the support of providers, existing health information networks, health IT developers, and federal agencies, are designed to help improve patient care, care coordination, and the overall health of the nation.”