NHIN Direct, we hardly knew thee.
The health information exchange protocol to help small physician practices participate in the Nationwide Health Information Network and achieve a key "meaningful use" measure--often referred to as the "trust fabric" of HIE--has a new name: the Direct Project.
More importantly, the rebranded Direct Project has completed its open-source enabling software and is launching a series of pilots to demonstrate the effectiveness of secure messaging of sensitive healthcare data over the Internet. This set of standards-based technical tools and services will allow providers and other healthcare entities to "push" electronic messages to known, trusted recipients much like email, except that these healthcare messages will be encrypted to HIPAA standards.
"The Direct Project seeks to benefit patients and providers by improving the transport of health information, making it faster, more secure, and less expensive. The Direct Project will facilitate 'direct' communication patterns with an eye toward approaching more advanced levels of interoperability than simple paper can provide," Direct Project advocates Brian Ahier, Dr. David Kibbe and Rich Elmore explain in a detailed post on The Health Care Blog.
More than 20 health IT vendors have signed on to incorporate Direct Project standards and concepts into their messaging services. According to Government Health IT, each vendor will include a message-routing method, a provider directory, certificate management for identification, audit logs and acknowledgment of message delivery.