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District of Columbia Launches Direct Secure Messaging

The District of Columbia Health Information Exchange (DC HIE) is pleased to announce that Direct Secure Messaging (Direct) is now live in the District of Columbia. Direct Secure Messaging, commonly referred to simply as Direct, allows healthcare providers, professionals, and their designees to electronically share patient health information in a method similar to e-mail, but with the added security required for sensitive health information. DC HIE is the statewide health information exchange (HIE) for the District of Columbia and is managed, operated, and staffed by the District of Columbia’s Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF). The technology platform for DC HIE’s Direct was developed by Orion Health, a worldwide leader in HIE and healthcare integration solutions.

Direct is a “push” secure messaging system where information is sent from one registered provider directly to another registered provider who is known to the sender. This one-way exchange allows any healthcare provider or professional licensed or certified within the District of Columbia to easily share vital patient information, yet still retain the high level of security required for protected health information. In the future, DC HIE Direct subscribers may also have the ability to send and receive secure messages to Direct subscribers to HIE’s in neighboring states. Funding for the DC HIE was made available by a $5.1 million grant to DHCF from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

“We created the Direct Project in 2010—a project that has truly become a grassroots effort in which providers, states, federal agencies, and technology vendors work together to enable health information exchange throughout the country,” said Chris Muir, ONC program manager for the state HIE program. “Today, Direct is a central part of the health information exchange strategies for nearly all 50 states, and now, the District of Columbia.”

Cleveland Woodson, DC HIE’s policy board chair, stated, “In addition to providing a secure means to send patient information, Direct also helps healthcare providers and professionals meet specific meaningful use requirements by enabling the electronic exchange of patient care summaries, results, and other information. Healthcare providers and professionals in the District are encouraged to take advantage of this capability.”

Direct is available free of charge until September 1, 2013. After that time, a low monthly fee will be applied and invoiced annually.

More information about DC HIE and Direct can be found at dhcf.dc.gov.

Source: District of Columbia Health Information Exchange