Health Gorilla’s Application to Become a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) Has Been Approved – What Does it Mean?

Yesterday, Health Gorilla’s application to become a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) under the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) was approved by the Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE) that is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the new federal Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA). The announcement is a significant step along the path towards nationwide health data interoperability as established in the 21st Century Cures Act – and it is such an important milestone from many perspectives.

Health Gorilla is one of six entities moving forward in the process toward official designation later this year. I congratulate our fellow prospective QHINs and look forward to working together as we enter into the testing and then the implementation phase of this exciting journey. The designation is not guaranteed at this point, but the fact that we have made it over this hurdle makes us very optimistic. 

This milestone is so significant in the big picture of what's been happening over the last 30-plus years to advance the use of health information and technology to improve health and healthcare.

We have made a nationwide commitment, from the highest levels of government, to health data interoperability and exchange, and now we are ready to move forward.

TEFCA builds on all the public and private interoperability work that has come before and takes it to a new level of engagement and standardization to expand the use cases, expand the participants, and expand and leverage the latest technology developments to really push interoperability to the next level.

This isn't just about data exchange between clinicians, or clinicians and patients, or clinicians and payers. This is about enhancing the healthcare experience for patients and providers. This is about improving the health of our citizens, who deserve to receive the best care for their health care dollars.

We know that having frictionless access to complete health data can directly impact the quality of care, the safety of care, and the efficiency and value of care. This is directly tied to the Quintuple Aim for health care with health equity as the fifth and most recently identified pillar. Health data interoperability can simultaneously benefit all five of the pillars:

  1. Improve the health of our community.
  2. Lower the per capita cost of care.
  3. Make the experience of patients better.
  4. Relieve some of the burden on providers and clinicians that leads to burnout.
  5. Support health equity.

It's about individuals being empowered with access to their data and society being empowered to apply that data to improve the health of our population.

Taking it beyond providers, patients and payers, there is a pressing need to improve public health data exchange, and to support the integration and coordination of social and clinical services to address the social determinants of health (SDOH) – and TEFCA is going to embrace and support those over time.

TEFCA will help us accomplish things we could not achieve as an industry driven largely by the business interests of established participants. A lot of the health-related data that could be valuably exchanged doesn't always have a business case behind it.

With the combined power of public interest, government oversight, and private investment we can anticipate the evolution of new products and services and sustainable business models that will harness the power and realize the potential of the latest technology to create rapid beneficial change for patients, providers and a range of health care participants. 

There have been significant advances, but if we want to bring everyone forward together we need to harness and leverage the combined power of a hybrid public-private model, leveraging the impact of the market and government incentives to drive our use of technology forward.

As Chief Medical Officer at Health Gorilla, a primary care physician by trade, and a public servant to a number of governmental efforts driving health data interoperability over the years, I am beyond proud to be part of the TEFCA community. I am exhilarated by the progress we’ve seen and excited to help usher this process forward – and see how far we can go together.