United States QHIN Established As ‘Alternative Health Information Network’

Feb. 8, 2021
The organization intends to be a qualified health information network under TEFCA and sees itself as different than existing networks that are largely focused on connecting large EMR systems

Velatura Public Benefit Corporation, which spun out in 2018 from the Michigan Health Information Network, is forming a wholly owned subsidiary called the United States QHIN (USQHIN). The organization, which officials are calling “an alternative health information network,” has the goal of becoming a Qualified Health Information Network (QHIN) under the federal government’s TEFCA (Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement) model.

USQHIN will be led by Doug Dietzman, who previously was CEO of Great Lakes Health Connect in Michigan. USQHIN says it aims to solve longstanding interoperability challenges “by closing the gap between effective local or regional exchange and national exchange and by emphasizing collaboration and honoring existing network relationships to benefit all participants.”

USQHIN says it aligns with the currently understood vision and the federal regulatory guidelines for a national interoperability framework set forth in TEFCA, and “is positioned to become a core contributor to the country’s interoperability ecosystem.”

The 21st Century Cures Act mandates that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) establish a common framework to enable nationwide health information exchange. By establishing a network of Qualified Health Information Networks, TEFCA seeks to provide a single “on-ramp” for nationwide connectivity and ensure the integrity and security of data as it is delivered where and when needed.

As an alternative to current networks that are largely focused on large electronic medical record (EMR) systems, USQHIN says it will be focused on connecting health information exchanges (HIEs), health plans, state and local governments, and other non-traditional stakeholders to the national TEFCA framework.

TEFCA’s Recognized Coordinating Entity (RCE), The Sequoia Project, is still working out finalizing the rules of the road for participation of potential QHINs. The RCE has been tasked with developing a set of metrics to be reported on a regular basis by QHINs that assess compliance with the Common Agreement and process and outcome measures that demonstrate compliance.​ Metrics are expected to be submitted for review and approval to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) this month. Currently, no organizations have been “qualified” under the TEFCA model, and USQHIN says it intends to move through the formal qualification activity as those requirements and the application process are finalized.

“USQHIN elevates the ‘network of networks’ model using proven operational methodologies and backed by more than a decade of deep experience at the forefront of health information exchange,” said Doug Dietzman, executive vice president of USQHIN. “We’ll connect the great work HIEs, vendors and other organizations are doing in local markets with the evolving national interoperability ecosystem to increase the quality, quantity, and security of clinical data sharing.”

USQHIN is currently working on what officials call “an innovative collaborative, National ADT Hub Network (NAHN), to create a new U.S. asset for admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) data exchange to better enable national public health use cases and various federal interoperability goals.” The current pandemic has highlighted the significant inefficiencies at the national level of acquiring consistent, high quality ADT data through the fragmented vendor and HIE model across the country today. As such, USQHIN’s NAHN is moving aggressively to solve this problem, its leaders added.

“With USQHIN, we are intentionally taking a collaborative approach to solve national interoperability challenges to benefit all participants and stakeholders. No single organization will be able to do it all. So strong, trusted collaboration will be critical to the future success across the country,” said Deitzman.

Velatura is a member of a family of organizations that are designed to improve clinical information exchange, and which today consists of Velatura, MiHIN, USQHIN, and the Interoperability Institute.  Through this relationship, Velatura has the full financial, technical, staffing, and operational backing of these health IT network companies. Recently, Midwest Health Connection (MHC) executed an affiliation agreement to become a subsidiary of the Velatura HIE Corp. and the first HIE to take advantage of the services offered by Velatura, which include provider directory, public health reporting, patient-provider attribution services, transition of care/encounter notifications, quality measure reporting and telehealth. Velatura said at the time that the new consolidated HIE service organization is one of the largest of its type in the country, connecting more than 1,300 healthcare organizations.