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Secure communication of clinical information is the name of the game

By Peter White | September 22, 2015

David Rath’s article in the September 7, 2015, issue of Healthcare Informatics titled: “Is Direct the Rodney Dangerfield of Interoperability?” makes some excellent points.

According to the web site, 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 focuses on the technical standards and services necessary to securely push content from a sender to a receiver and not the actual content exchanged. For example, a primary care physician who is referring a patient to a specialist can use Direct to provide a clinical summary of that patient to the specialist and to receive a summary of the consultation.

Rath makes the point, that although initially dismissed, Direct secure messaging is getting more respect as it matures.

Take for example the way healthcare organizations, today, are required to manage their provider information using Direct Addresses. Direct Addresses have great potential to help providers communicate electronically, but the complexity and management of them poses many issues for hospitals.

The Direct Address and the required associated physical address are new data elements that need to be managed by each hospital. It has been well documented and written about that hospitals maintain many redundant provider profiles across the EMR, credentialing, data warehouse, ancillary department systems and others. A unified provider management platform (UPM) can eliminate this redundancy and enable hospitals to use one platform to manage a unified network profile (UNP). Updates are entered in or flow into the UNP and are then synchronized with the EMR and all downstream systems.

Direct Addresses are just another data component for a UPM platform. In fact, as each Direct Address flows into the UPM, it can take the associated unverified physical address information and keep the data as a non-operational address for that provider; therefore, the unverified address won’t infect the verified information on that provider.

Ultimately the adoption of Direct communication will be driven by a reimbursement model that rewards coordination of care. No matter what form it takes, secure communication of patients’ clinical information is critical to improved medical outcomes.

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