Getting Direct with State Health Information Exchange
Posted Apr 15 2011 7:20pm
I have been working on a contract to help the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) State HIE Program host a Direct Boot Camp in Chicago, IL on April 12 – 14, 2011. So I spent a few days this week working at the Boot Camp helping the ONC bring states up to speed on the Direct Project. But the Boot Camp went well beyond Direct basics to focus on implementation details to help States who are planning on implementing Direct learn from experiences in the field and take their next implementation steps. The Boot Camp was geared explicitly toward states that are implementing Direct as part of their strategic and operational plans under their cooperative agreement with the ONC. I was pleased to be part of the excellent team of ONC staff and consultants that organized and facilitated the event. The meeting agenda and materials are now posted on the Direct Project wiki and there was some good discussion using the #ONCDirect hashtag on Twitter. There was also some rich discussion during the Q&A portions of each session and I encourage you to read through the session notes available on the wiki.
Much of the impetus for incorporating the Direct Project into their state plans was the result of the Program Information Notice (Document Number: ONC-HIE-PIN-001), known as the PIN, sent to the states on July 6, 2010. One section of the PIN requires the states to
Set Strategy to Meet Gaps in HIE Capabilities for Meaningful Use — Develop and implement a strategy and work plan to address the gaps in HIE capabilities as identified in the environmental scan with a focus on delivery of structured lab results, e-prescribing and sharing patient care summaries across unaffiliated organizations. Gap-filling strategies might include
Policy, purchasing and regulatory actions, such as requiring e-prescribing or electronic sharing of lab results in state or Medicaid contracts with pharmacies and clinical labs.
Core services to reduce the cost and complexity of exchange including authoritative provider and plan directories and authentication services that would support both simplified and comprehensive interoperability.
Targeted infrastructure for gap areas such as shared services for small labs or pharmacies, or to serve rural providers, which could utilize both simplified and comprehensive interoperability solutions.
In filling these gaps, the state is not required to directly provide or construct technology infrastructure or services. A key role for states can be to provide leadership and direction to public and private stakeholders. States may also use policy and purchasing levers to extend and enhance existing HIE activities in the state so as to encourage key trading partners such as pharmacies and clinical laboratories to participate in electronic service delivery and to enable providers to meet meaningful use requirements.
States shall also establish a strategy and immediate next steps to address the following over the course of the project
Building capacity of public health systems to accept electronic reporting of immunizations, notifiable diseases and syndromic surveillance reporting from providers.
To meet these requirements many states have plans to use direct messaging in a phased approach as an onramp towards more robust HIE services. But due to the flexible nature of a cooperative agreement, as opposed to being a straight grant, the states have been working with the ONC to fine tune their plans. Many of these states had their plans approved before the Direct Project was able to provide working code. As the Direct Project has developed, some of the states thinking around deploying direct messaging services has evolved. And there is also continuing maturity in the marketplace, with vendors offering services that have allowed the states to back away from providing centralized services themselves and moving towards a more market based approach.
Therefore, many states that were originally planning to to act as a Health Information Service Provider (HISP) themselves are now moving towards creating a preferred vendor list for HISPSs and monitoring the market to ensure coverage for all the providers in their state. A HISP is an entity that provides services that are required for Direct Project exchange, such as the management of trust between senders and receivers. Using the HISP model, offerings are emerging that provide some of these services
Provisioning of health domain addresses
Certification issuance and management
Global routing services
The Best Practices for HISPs posted on the wiki is an excellent document for those interested in knowing more about organization structures that will allow these services to be provided.
There are also states planning to use Direct to help with interstate exchange. This is an area that will need further development, as we weave through the spaghetti of various consent laws around the country, but ultimately getting exchange happening at a broad scale will obviously include interstate exchange. Some of the nation networks being launched, such as AAFP/Surescripts and Verizon presented during the boot camp and helped the states to shape some of their thinking in this area. There was a lot of discussion about Provider Directories as well, which I will leave to a future post. It was a very interesting experience to work with the ONC and the various states to further integrate the Direct Project into their plans and I expect we will see this help to drive further adoption and use of these standards and specifications.
The list below shows the currently approved state specific strategic and operational plans for creating health information exchange capacity. Not all of these states are incorporating Direct Project into their plans.
StateStrategic /Operational Plans and State SummariesEntity Responsible for GrantPlan Approval Date