Ohio first state to use Direct messaging across state lines

By Diana Manos
10:06 AM

Ohio is the first state in the nation to successfully send and receive health information across state lines, using Direct secure messaging, through its statewide health information exchange, CliniSync, according to the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP). The OHIP, a Medicity client, is the state-designated HIE for Ohio.

Medicity announced Friday that it has helped OHIP to conduct live messages between one physician's office in Lima, Ohio and another in Biloxi, Miss. Mississippi's state-designated HIE, the Mississippi Health Information Network (MS-HIN), is also a Medicity client. The partnership also performed live instances of Direct messaging within the state of Ohio. 

[See also: Ohio HIE finds its stride.]
With these successful exchanges of Direct messages accomplished, OHIP and Medicity are finalizing a mass deployment plan to provide all Ohio practices with Medicity's Direct application. Medocity officials said they "look forward to additional breakthroughs and firsts in this new frontier of health information exchange."

The Direct Project, developed through the Nationwide Health Information Network within the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC), is a set of standards, policies and services that enable simple, secure transport of health information between healthcare participants, such as physicians, hospitals and labs. Essentially, this is a secure, encrypted email that serves as an alternative to mailing and faxing patient information.
"We at ONC are excited to see this first productive use of Direct protocols for the exchange of health information between two states," said Farzad Mostashari, MD, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.
"This is just one small step in our journey to connect medical and health care professionals across the nation, so that all Americans can receive the best health care possible," he added. "We know electronic health records can save time, money and lives. But most of all, we know doctors can better coordinate the care they give to patients when they can electronically share that information at the right time, in the right place."

[See also: Direct Project goes live with pilot data exchanges.]
In northwest Ohio, Direct messaging of electronic health records occurred between a physician's office and a healthcare facility. James T. Bowlus, M.D., Inc., a single family practice in Elida, and Health Partners of Western Ohio, in Lima, a federally qualified health center, successfully sent and received messages between each other. Both are part of the West Central Ohio Health Information Exchange, the first group of hospitals and health facilities to go "live" with CliniSync in Ohio.
Both the practices also participate in the Ohio Department of Health's patient-centered medical home project. Over the course of 20 minutes, each successfully sent four Direct messages to the other medical provider. The intent behind the electronic exchange of health records is that doctors and other healthcare professionals can better care for a patient when they have all of that patient's information at their fingertips.
"This is a successful breakthrough in Ohio's ability to electronically connect medical providers in rural areas," said Fred Richards, CIO, COO of the Ohio Health Information Partnership. "That ability to share records in remote, underserved areas in two different states goes straight to the heart of this grant program."
Ohio received $14.8 million in federal grant funding through the Office of the National Coordinator of HIT as part of a nationwide push by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services toward the electronic exchange of health information among doctors, labs, hospitals and health professionals within each of the 50 states and ultimately, across the nation.
The Ohio Health Information Partnership has 26 contracts now signed with hospitals and health systems for CliniSync services. To date, more than 5,900 physicians and eligible professionals have signed up with the Ohio Health Information Partnership for free services to help them prepare their offices for use of electronic health records. Ohio's seven regional partners will continue to provide these services as well as help physicians reach "meaningful use," a federal requirement that allows them to receive Medicaid or Medicare incentives if they use electronic records in a meaningful way that improves patient care, such as e-prescribing, providing public health information and creating reports that show trends in care.

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