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Epic EHR clients pledge to join TEFCA

24 large health systems, all Epic EHR customers, have pledged to join TEFCA to improve interoperability across organizational lines.
By admin
May 30, 2023, 7:00 AM

Two dozen notable health systems have announced their commitment to the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA), the government initiative aimed at creating a “universal floor for interoperability” between disparate healthcare stakeholders.  

All 24 organizations are EHR customers of Epic Systems, which pledged its participation in TEFCA in June of 2022. 

“By joining TEFCA, these health systems reaffirm their ongoing commitment to improving patient care by advancing health information exchange,” said Matt Doyle, Interoperability Software Development Lead at Epic. “Our plan is to deliver software this year that will help our customers to be among the initial participants in TEFCA, and we’re optimistic that nearly all of the 2,000 hospitals and 600,000 clinicians that use Epic across the US will participate.” 

TEFCA’s two-part framework starts with a charter of seven guiding principles, including standardization, transparency, cooperation, privacy and security, access, equity, and public health. Stakeholders have been asked to agree to adhering to these guidelines as they continue to develop their interoperability capabilities.   

The second part of the plan is Common Agreement, which will create a “network of networks” to put these goals into action. The Common Agreement will establish a series of Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs) to serve as mentors and resources for developing infrastructure and data governance strategies to make seamless data exchange a reality. 

Getting Epic’s nod on TEFCA was a hopeful sign for interoperability advocates, as the nation’s largest EHR vendor has a great deal of influence with its many prominent clients.  Epic has a well-developed internal interoperability network that allows clients to share information relatively freely, and is a participant in the national Carequality network, but has taken criticism for perceived reluctance to participate in broader efforts involving its competitors in the past.  

Now, however, Epic has fully committed to TEFCA, and has even become a QHIN itself, the Office of the National Coordinator announced in February. Once the onboarding process is complete, Epic TEFCA Interoperability Services will officially become a guiding QHIN entity, along with CommonWell Health Alliance, eHealth Exchange, Health Gorilla, Kno2, and KONZA. 

With Epic actively encouraging its large customer base to publicize their participation as well, TEFCA might be finding itself on firmer footing going forward. 

The newly announced cohort of health systems includes Cedars-Sinai, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic, NYU Langone Health, Rush University Medical Center, Yale New Haven Health, and Stanford Healthcare, among others.  

“Stanford Health Care is excited to join the nationwide TEFCA framework. We have long supported regional partnerships to promote data sharing for treatment and our North California partners have been trailblazers in national interoperability as early participants in the Carequality Framework,” said Dr. Matthew Eisenberg, Associate CMIO at Stanford Health Care. “We are excited about the vision of a simpler if not single on-ramp to secure, national health information exchange that will benefit all of our patients and providers.” 

Jennifer Bresnick is a journalist and freelance content creator with a decade of experience in the health IT industry.  Her work has focused on leveraging innovative technology tools to create value, improve health equity, and achieve the promises of the learning health system.  She can be reached at jennifer@inklesscreative.com.

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