As most of you may already know, the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreements Program is designed to promote health information exchange (HIE) that will advance mechanisms for information sharing across the health care system. I've said many times that simply digitizing disparate silos of health information will not move us toward the goals of lower costs, higher quality, and improved clinical outcomes. The appropriate and secure electronic exchange and consequent use of health information to improve quality and coordination of care is a critical enabler of a high performance health care system. The program aims to ensure that every eligible health care provider has at least one option for health information exchange that meets the requirements of the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, defined by CMS in a final rule released on July 13, 2010. Program awardees will be using their funding to:
- Create and implement up-to-date privacy and security requirements for HIE
- Coordinate with Medicaid and state public health programs to establish an integrated approach
- Monitor and track meaningful use HIE capabilities in their state
- Set strategy to meet gaps in HIE capabilities
- Ensure consistency with national standards
One of the resources resources available to assist states and SDEs in their efforts to establish Health Information Exchange capacity for providers is the Direct Project. The Direct Project was created to specify a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet. The Direct Project has more than 200 participants from over 50 different organizations. These participants include EHR and PHR vendors, medical organizations, systems integrators, integrated delivery networks, federal organizations, state and regional health information organizations, organizations that provide health information exchange capabilities, and health information technology consultants. To assist states in planning to incorporate using Direct I am helping with a Direct Project boot camp in Chicago, Illinois April 12th through the 14th.
Thirty nine states are attending the boot camp, and thankfully without a government shutdown this week, the ONC can provide them with some great support. The states were presented with a Direct Basics Webinar on March 11, 2011. The Webex recording can be accessed HERE. The boot camp will build upon this to provide real hands on work assisting to incorporate direct messaging into their strategic and operational plans, especially to help fill in the gaps in health information exchange coverage. I'll be sure to provide the relevant information for stakeholders on the Direct Project wiki and may even send out a tweet or two.