The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recently released guidelines to help health information exchanges implement the Direct Project's clinical messaging protocols, InformationWeek reports (Terry, InformationWeek, 7/24).
Background on Direct Project
The Direct Project is a streamlined version of the Nationwide Health Information Network. NwHIN is a set of standards, specifications and services that offers a common platform for data exchange between disparate entities.
The Direct Project aims to facilitate online, standards-based exchange of medical data between health care providers (iHealthBeat, 6/21).
Details on the Guidelines
The ONC guidelines aim to ensure that state-contracted health information service providers -- which route messages between health care providers or between providers and patients -- allow information to move within and between states, even if the entities exchanging data use different health information exchange systems (InformationWeek, 7/24).
The guidelines also outline common policies, standards and implementation approaches for issues such as:
- Providing digital certifications; and
- Verifying the identity of end users (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/19).
According to ONC, all health information exchange service providers should follow several practices, such as:
- Complying with the HIPAA requirements for business associates;
- Encrypting all communications between end user systems and health data exchange systems; and
- Minimizing the collection and use of personal health information (InformationWeek, 7/24).