The 10-month-old government-led and private-sector-supported effort to facilitate healthcare information sharing among providers had something of a debut party Wednesday in Washington.
Feds' info-sharing project for providers live in two states
Formerly known as NHIN Direct, what is now called simply the Direct Project is moving past the pilot stage, said Dr. Farzad Mostashari, deputy national coordinator for programs and policy at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS.
Mostashari and the ONC hosted a news conference with an update on the Direct Project’s status.
Speakers from two pilot projects in Minnesota and Rhode Island that are using Direct were on hand at the gathering, but providers in several other states also will be exchanging information using Direct soon, according to the government.
In fact, Mostashari said, the project has now moved past the pilot stage.
“The announcement today is that NHIN Direct has taken flight," Mostashari said. "It will become the de facto standard of the land.”
According to the government, Direct is a set of “standards and service definitions, implementation guides, reference implementations and associated testing frameworks” that is targeted to facilitate peer-to-peer communications among providers. It will allow providers to meet minimal meaningful-use requirements for health information exchange under the federally funded electronic health-record system incentive-payment program.
One of the pilot leaders who spoke Wednesday was Dr. Albert Puerini, the president of Rhode Island Primary Care Physicians Corp., a 160-physician independent practice association based in Cranston. Its affiliated Polaris Medical Management, a management services organization, also in Cranston, provides IT and contracting services, including a home-grown EHR system, which it markets to practices outside the IPA.
When the government last year announced it would begin work on Direct, Puerini said he saw it as an opportunity to allow a small-scale EHR developer such as Polaris to create interfaces with laboratories and other vendors' EHR systems.
“We said, this was it,” Puerini said. Just this Monday, he said, he sent a referral to a gastroenterologist using Direct in the Continuity of Care data transmission format. “It was encrypted, it was secure, and it happened flawlessly,” Puerini said.
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