Direct Messaging - What You Need to Know

Date: November 13th, 2013Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: Meaningful Use, Direct Messaging

A primer for Colorado health care providers on this basic form of health information exchange.

Direct messaging, often called simply “Direct” for short, is a basic form of health information exchange (HIE) that allows health care providers to securely and electronically send patient information to other specified providers, or to patients themselves. Commonly compared to sending a secure email, this information is sent over the Internet in an encrypted, protected way that is HIPAA-compliant.

Direct is a relatively new method for exchanging health information and few providers are using it right now. However, new Stage 2 "Meaningful Use" objectives are going into effect that support the use of Direct, so this will likely change over the next 12 months.  Half of all eligible providers are currently participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs, which have set standards for the Meaningful Use of EHRs.

Using Direct to Communicate With Other Providers

Providers can use Direct to type notes and send them, with attached files if needed, to other providers with whom they are coordinating care for a shared patient. Different files can be attached to Direct messages such as certain types of medical images, care summaries in CCD or C-CDA format, PDFs and more.

When a provider receives a Direct message, attachments can be downloaded and saved into a patient’s electronic health record (or printed out for those still using paper charts). For example, a referring primary care physician might send patient information to a specialist and attach a care summary to better inform the specialist about the incoming patient.

Implications for Meaningful Use Stage 2

Both Eligible Hospitals and Eligible Providers have a “core” (or required) Meaningful Use objective on transitions of care. This objective requires sending a summary of care record for more than 50% of referrals or care transitions – and 10% of those must be done electronically. Direct messaging coupled with a certified EHR would meet this requirement.

CORHIO’s Capabilities to Support Direct Messaging

CORHIO is a Health Information Service Provider (HISP), which means we are certified to offer Direct addresses (which are similar to email addresses) and we provide the service to transmit the Direct messages. If you are working towards Meaningful Use, CORHIO can work with your EHR vendor to provide HISP services. If you are not interested in Meaningful Use or don’t have an EHR, we have a web-based tool you can use to transmit Direct messages in a secure environment. Please contact CORHIO at 720-285-3200 or info@corhio.org for more information.