Global Edition2022 Look AheadSo TEFCA is live. Now what?Former National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Don Rucker discusses what’s next for interoperability and why he sees TEFCA as a ‘solid first step.‘By Kat JercichJanuary 24, 202202:58 PMPhoto: HIMSS MediaThis past week, the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT announced that the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement is now live. The announcement marks a major step forward toward nationwide interoperability, aimed at simplifying inter-organizational connectivity and ultimately giving individuals access to their healthcare information. TEFCA has been in progress over multiple administrations following the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act in 2016 and few have a better sense of its ins and outs than Dr. Donald Rucker, who served as national coordinator for health IT from 2017 through 2021. Rucker, now chief strategy officer with 1upHealth, sat down with Healthcare IT News to chat about what’s next for interoperability in the United States, the advantages of FHIR-enabled tools and the importance of being able to analyze population-wide health data. Q. What interoperability challenges do you see TEFCA addressing? A. It’s a hard space. And it’s worth understanding why it’s hard. You can look at connectivity: Are we getting information on one patient? Or on a population? And then, the other dimension is: Is this connectivity the patient controlsor that gets data into patients’ hands, or is this connectivity between providers? Sothose are probably three somewhat separate buckets. TEFCA is really about the incumbent providers sitting on electronic medical records and getting the various medical record vendor networks first and foremost and then the health information exchanges to talk to each other. This is important in a lot of healthcarebecause patients may be too sick, or too young, or too oldto remember medical details. If you come into the trauma bay, you may not be able to remember what your password is or your provider site.I see TEFCA, as it is, as sort of a placeholder for some of the richer computing that needs to follow if we’re going to have a rational healthcare system. If we’re going to do the things that are measures of value, measures of public health support for social determinants of health, we need sort of a different system than the connectivity pathways that we have today.
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