Direct Messaging Update: CORHIO Successfully Connects With Out-of-State and National HISPs

Date: May 14th, 2014Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, CORHIO Network, Direct Messaging

Individuals who relocate to or from Colorado, or who experience a medical need away from home, will benefit from providers using Direct messaging and HISP services that can appropriately route messages.

Imagine this scenario: one of your long-time patients with chronic heart disease travels to Kansas to visit family. During that visit, he is rushed to an emergency room with chest pains and admitted for observation. After he returns home, the patient calls your office to make an appointment for follow-up care. He does not have paperwork from the hospital to share with you. How can you quickly get a summary of the Kansas hospitalization?

One solution is Direct messaging. Direct messaging is a secure type of health information exchange that’s similar to email, but it can be used to send protected health information from one provider to another (if they both have Direct addresses). So in the above scenario, your office could quickly receive a summary of care from the recent Kansas hospital visit to your Direct in-box.

Direct messaging is one way to take health information exchange (HIE) beyond state borders. Continuity of care relies on providers’ ability to view accurate patient information at the point of care, regardless of geographical boundaries. This is why HIE organizations around the country are exploring how to securely exchange health information with one another. These exchange connections can also support providers in achieving stage 2 of Meaningful Use and potentially earning incentive funds. For more information on Direct messaging, see Direct Messaging – What You Need to Know.

Kansas and Colorado HIEs Now Connected; Montana Next

Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN) and CORHIO both provide Health Information Service Provider (HISP) services, which means they have a designation that allows the organizations to facilitate the exchange of clinical data via Direct messaging. HISP service has been compared to Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the main difference being that HISPs must follow strict standards in handling health information using the Direct messaging protocols. HISPs must also be registered with a registration authority and hold digital certificates from a certificate authority.

Now that CORHIO and KHIN are connected, providers on the KHIN network can send information to someone on the CORHIO HISP and vice versa. To better facilitate provider to provider communication, CORHIO plans to upload a directory of KHIN provider email addresses.

“The Direct messaging connection between KHIN and CORHIO is a pivotal achievement in the Mid-States Consortium’s charter to enable data exchange across regional and state lines,” says Laura McCrary Ed.D, executive director of Kansas Health Information Network and vice chair of the Mid-States Consortium of Health Information Organizations. “This is the first step in what we hope to be a long list of state-to-state connections that will improve patient care coordination in our increasingly mobile society.”

CORHIO is also in the process of setting up HISP connectivity with HealthShare Montana. HealthShare Montana is the state-designated entity headquartered in Billings that serves the whole state.

CORHIO Connects to Surescripts HISP

In March of this year, CORHIO and Surescripts completed the technical work to connect their two networks. Surescripts is a large national network that enables electronic prescription exchange between providers and pharmacies. In a statement released in 2013, Surescripts announced their plans to “connect an additional 19 state health information exchanges (HIEs) and health information service providers (HISPs), enabling clinical data to be shared electronically and facilitating improved care coordination among providers with access to Surescripts' secure and integrated network services.”

This project was the first connection of the CORHIO HISP to another organization’s HISP. “The CORHIO and Surescripts connection is exciting because Surescripts is working across many states and HIEs,” says Kelly Joines, VP of HIE program operations at CORHIO. “The connection between our two organizations gives CORHIO participants quick and easy data sharing across states and between different systems.” 

In particular, the CORHIO-Surescripts connection will allow providers on either network to exchange Direct messages, as the Direct network becomes more robust.