Epic is a member of the inaugural group of six prospective QHINs that were recognized by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) earlier this year. Today, Epic announced that 20 health systems along with health tech company KeyCare and health information exchange OCHIN will be joining TEFCA with the goal of increasing interoperability in healthcare. Notable participating health systems include Cedars-Sinai, Mayo Clinic, MetroHealth, Mount Sinai Health System, NYU Langone Health, Stanford Health Care and UC Davis Health.
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New rules under the ONC Cures Act require healthcare entities to share data in a standardized format. In 2021, the final rules were adopted, including requiring health IT developers to provide FHIR-based application programming interfaces (APIs) to enable seamless data sharing. As of February 2023, 95 percent of certified health IT developers met the compliance deadline.
The combined networks of the QHIN applicants encompass the majority of hospitals and tens of thousands of providers nationwide, according to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Earlier this year, ONC announced the initial group of candidates to integrate TEFCA as a QHIN. These include Common Health Alliance, eHealth Exchange, Epic TEFCA Interoperability Services, Health Gorilla, KNO2, and Konza, all approved by both the ONC and the Sequoia Project.
Similarly, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) reports that states with well-established HIE networks have seen reductions in emergency department visits, due in part to the fact that HIEs enable providers to access patients' information from other healthcare organizations, leading to better care coordination and decision-making, ultimately reducing the need for unnecessary emergency visits.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently named the first six Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs) under the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), marking a major step forward in health data interoperability. While many anticipate a surge of information with increased interoperability, Micky Tripathi, National Coordinator for Health IT, recognizes the difficulties of sharing information between organizations and the resulting “operational friction in interoperability.” The QHINs were established to alleviate this challenge.