HHS releases long-awaited interoperability framework

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HHS has released plans for a data exchange network
HHS has released plans for a data exchange network

The quest for secure, shareable information in the medical world is inching closer to reality. On Friday, federal officials released draft framework for a nationwide health-data exchange.

The Trusted Exchange Framework, designed by the Department of Health and Human Services, proposes policies, procedures and technical standards necessary to achieve interoperability as required by the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016.

The idea is to create a trusted exchange framework that allows a provider to give and get information, regardless of varying software platforms. Technical issues, and to some extent proprietary technology, have long limited comprehensive data-sharing across the healthcare industry and long-term care in particular.

Key features of the draft include patient access, population-level data exchange and open and accessible application programming interfaces to encourage future innovation.

The draft “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,” said Don Rucker, M.D., national coordinator for health information technology. “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.”

The comment period for the draft closes on Feb. 18, 2018. Comments can be submitted at exchangeframework@hhs.gov.