As Tennessee’s healthcare system evolves, physicians continue to seek ways to improve how medical services are coordinated and delivered to patients. Through new technology, there is an unprecedented opportunity for healthcare providers to collaborate and expand their efforts to improve preventive care, better manage chronic conditions and coordinate more community-based care options for older patients.
Historically providers have had limited options for using technology to achieve these goals because easy-to-access, simple-to-use and secure electronic communications of patient information across providers were unavailable. Today, with the help of improved information technology, healthcare providers can be among the first in Tennessee to deliver better care and improved outcomes for patients through the “Tennessee Health e-Share Direct Project.” The Health eShare Direct Project provides a simple way for healthcare professionals to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet.
How does the Direct Technology work?
All healthcare professionals can relate to how inefficient the exchange of patient information among providers can be. Direct Technology is an e-mail-like direct messaging service that allows providers to securely send and receive messages and attachments. It can streamline the typical communication barriers that once existed and improve care coordination by allowing a physician to securely push out patient information, such as lab results, to all appropriate members of a patient’s care team who have a Direct address. This could include specialists such as oncologists or neurologists, or home health providers and therapists.
The more providers who participate in the Health eShare Direct Project and use Direct Technology, the stronger our continuum of care and healthcare system becomes.
What are the benefits of Direct?
Direct improves collaboration and communication among healthcare providers. It makes vital information more readily accessible and helps providers deliver more efficient and effective care. Direct Technology can:
- Enable clinical information to track the patient throughout the healthcare system;
- Allow physicians and their staffs to securely transfer medical summaries, diagnostic test results and other patient information;
- Streamline transitions of care by providing timely discharge summary information and referral information;
- Enhance the process of treatment authorizations for non-physician providers such as home health providers, long-term care providers and therapists; and
- Simplify reporting requirements to Medicare and other payers.
Direct also helps providers meet Meaningful Use requirements of the EHR Incentive Program. Starting in 2014, providers will need to demonstrate to the federal government that they are effectively using electronic health records (EHRs) and securely sharing patients’ health information with other providers. The 2014 ONC Certification Criteria requires that EHR systems used to meet both Meaningful Use Stage I and Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements after January 1, 2014, are capable of sending and receiving Direct secure messages, including the ability to incorporate electronic documents conforming to the HL7 Consolidated CDA standard, such as the CCD (Continuity of Care Document). Direct Technology satisfies these requirements by allowing doctors to be sent healthcare data from valid sources and therefore to receive needed healthcare data at specific and necessary points, such as transitions of care.
What is the Health eShare Direct project?
The Health eShare Direct project is the State of Tennessee’s initiative to promote early adoption of Direct technology for secure healthcare message exchange. The initiative received funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 to support this Direct project, and other like projects, to implement and support secure health information exchange (HIE).
The Health eShare project started with community pilots and culminated in a statewide roll-out of Direct implementation for healthcare professionals that were ready to implement and push healthcare information utilizing Direct technology as their secure transport solution. The statewide roll-out ran from July, 2013, through January, 2014, and resulted in the successful implementation of 4,000+ Direct email addresses.
The Health eShare website, http://healthesharetn.com/, was created to provide a location for general information on Direct technology, as well as, the registration point for participating in Tennessee’s Health eShare Direct project.
The Health eShare website, http://healthesharetn.com/, continues to provide general information on Direct Technology, Tennessee specific events, social media and participating vendor links, as well as, a Direct Directory site for Tennessee Direct users to register their Direct email addresses into a Tennessee ‘white pages’ of Direct users.
The Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives (OeHI), contracted with Qsource for assistance with the project’s implementation which included education, outreach, and technical assistance to healthcare professionals and their staffs.
Qsource is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) healthcare improvement and information technology consultancy. They were the authorized organization tasked by OeHI to facilitate and support the Health eShare Direct Project adoption and implementation.
The mission of the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives is to facilitate improvements in Tennessee’s health care quality, safety, transparency, efficiency and cost effectiveness through statewide adoption and use of electronic health records (EHR) and health information exchange (HIE).
Office of eHealth Initiatives
310 Great Circle Road
4th Floor, East
Nashville, TN 37243