In December, the coordinator for the Direct Project — an open-government initiative to create a set of specifications that will enable widespread and meaningful health information exchange — announced that its software was ready to begin testing. This week, that testing became a reality, as pilots in Minnnesota and Rhode Island went live using Direct Project software.
“This is an important milestone in our journey to achieve secure health information exchange, and it means that health care providers large and small will have an early option for the electronic exchange of information supporting their most basic and frequently needed uses,” said Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology.
In the first pilot, Hennepin County Medical Center in Minnesota has been successfully sending immunization records to the Minnesota Department of Health. The connection is enabled by VisionShare, which serves as a health information services provider, or HISP. VisionShare intends to expand the pilot program to other states, including Oklahoma.
The second pilot is being conducted by the Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI), which has demonstrated direct provider-to-provider data exchange among primary care physicians and specialists, a key component of Stage 1 meaningful use requirements. RIQI also is using Direct Project specifications to feed clinical information to the statewide HIE, Currentcare.
The Direct Project is poised for even greater expansion with five more states aiming to launch pilot programs later this year: New York, Tennessee, California, Connecticut and Texas all are planning to use the software to enable directed health information exchange. The project is also is gaining support from the vendor community, with 29 health IT vendors announcing plans to enable Direct Project.