4 Predictions for 2023: TEFCA Exchange, Patient Privacy, Individual Access, and Digital Health M&A

It’s no big surprise that when we asked our executive team what they see in the near future, the Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) was top of mind. But what this and other measures laid out by the 21st Century Cures Act will mean for patient privacy and individual access, as well as the outlook for digital health startups, also made the list. Read on for Health Gorilla’s four predictions for the coming year.  

Prediction 1: TEFCA will spawn the very first group of QHINs

There’s little doubt we’ll see the first TEFCA exchange in 2023. With a crowded field of candidates vying to be among the first Qualified Health Information Networks (QHINs), including Health Gorilla, the next milestone will happen in February. That’s when Micky Tripathi, head of the Office for the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT, plans to announce the list of those who will advance to the implementation and testing phase. 

“By the end of the year, we'll see the first class of official QHINs spring into being and TEFCA (finally!) starting to become a reality – and then the race will be on among the government agencies to push the legacy healthcare ecosystem to connect into that new health data backbone,” said Jitin Asnaani, a member of the Health Gorilla Board of Directors and former Executive Director at CommonWell Health Alliance. “The future is bright, and 2023 will be a pivotal year.”

Prediction 2: TEFCA will bring a renewed focus on patient privacy and data security

Health Gorilla CEO and Co-founder Steve Yaskin says patient privacy and security must be the number 1 priority as more healthcare organizations participate in national health information exchange. 

“Red tape is there for a reason. Healthcare is a very different industry – we have to focus on security, privacy, and compliance,” Yaskin said. “As our sensitive health data becomes more interoperable, it’s important that we balance this broader sharing of health information with rigorous rules in place around privacy and security.” 

Prediction 3: Patients will benefit from individual access services (IAS)

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Lane predicts increasing individual access to health data leveraging existing OAuth2 / SMART-on-FHIR standards with early use of IAL2 standards. 

“This will support the desire of patients and their authorized representatives to access, compile and utilize their comprehensive health data to facilitate safer, more convenient, and higher value care,” he said.

There will also be a clarification of Information Blocking penalties and disincentives from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the ONC about Information Blocking claims that are filed, Dr. Lane added.

Prediction 4: Despite the downturn, there will be more digital health M&A

With lower valuations, Health Gorilla Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder Sergio Wagner anticipates many large healthcare organizations will be busy evaluating startups for acquisition.

“Many of our digital health customers are breakout winners in their category,” Wagner said. “With reasonable valuations being entertained, I believe we’ll see substantially more M&A in 2023.”

Derek Plansky, Health Gorilla’s Senior Vice President of Product Development, also says the economic downturn will create significant change in the digital health market.

“In 2023, there will be a shakeout with many smaller companies without a strong enough value proposition (‘it's a feature, not a company’) either closing up, or getting acquired into a larger organization,” he said.

Asnaani agreed. “The strongest models of healthcare delivery – and the technology to support it – will be forged through the fire of declining valuations,” he said. “Of course, this also means that some will melt away under that heat and pressure.”

“But regardless of where short-term valuations go, companies that raised money at the right time, used the funds judiciously, and still have financial firepower will stand the chance of becoming the winners of the eventual market recovery,” Asnaani said.