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The prevailing method of exchanging information in the healthcare setting is through mail or fax. As more providers switch to electronic health records, there will be a desire to be able to transmit that information without ever having to print. In addition, this is a requirement for Stage 1 Meaningful Use: EPs, EHs and CAHs must be able to exchange health information electronically with providers outside their organization. A simple way to do this is through the DIRECT Project.
The DIRECT Project is a set of standards and services through which providers can exchange information electronically in a simple, secure and scalable way. An easy way to think about it is as “secure email.” A provider will obtain a “Direct address” (email-like) and a security certificate. Then the provider will exchange encrypted information with other providers who also have a security certificate. Alternatively, a provider can use a Health Information Service Provider (HISP), to facilitate the secure exchange – a HISP is similar to the Information Service Provider (ISP) you use to access the internet at your home; it is just specific to health information.
The DIRECT Project was created as a quick and relatively simple way for providers to meet the Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements for electronic information exchange. Immunization Registry reporting or patient summary exchange could be attached and sent via email to meet Meaninigful Use requirements. By using DIRECT, providers may be able to avoid the establishment of expensive and potentially complex EHR interfaces.