Something we have all been waiting for today is finally open for business, the “Direct Project” from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.  You can read the official press release from the ONC Office here.  I have covered a bit of the progress here to a certain point as a preview of what was to come.  In the announcement Rhode Island and Minnesota are the first operating points to open.  There are a total of 29 Health IT vendors who have committed to coming online.  The Direct Project allows for sharing of clinical information via approved and secure standards.

Office of National Coordinator to Begin Real World Testing of NHIN–Clinical Information Exchange Between Healthcare Providers–The Next Step Beyond the Faximage

Ok, so now if you are a consumer this may not be too exciting but Microsoft at HealthVault has something for you with their work with Quest Diagnostics.  Also, I might make mention that the Medical Quack has over 300 posts on personal health records and you can either use the link above to review or simply use the 2nd search box via keyword to find additional information here.  The Direct Project is all part of the Nationwide Health Information Network..a short summary below. 

Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN): Background & Scope

“The Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) is being developed to provide a secure, nationwide, interoperable health information infrastructure that will connect providers, consumers, and others involved in supporting health and healthcare. This critical part of the national health IT agenda will enable health information to follow the consumer, be available for clinical decision making, and imagesupport appropriate use of healthcare information beyond direct patient care so as to improve health.”

HealthVault, the personal health records from Microsoft will now be able to accept emails direct from providers.  Med Plus and Vision Share Inc. are they 2 key vendors and Med Plus is the technology arm of Quest Diagnostics.  Quest has also been busy with their individual efforts with mobile connections and expanding methodologies for access to lab results and aggregating information with medications for a even higher level of intelligence.   Back in 2009 I spoke with MedPlus about where their technology was moving.

Quest Diagnostics and Health IT – Interview with Rohit Nayak, Vice President of Sales, Clinical Information Solutions Group, MedPlus

You can read at the link below about aggregating lab and medication information below.

Quest Diagnostics and Surescripts To Integrate Lab and Prescription Algorithms To Improve Safety and Outcomes

Back on track here, providers will be able to email information to the patient’s HeatlhVault Account securely.  The Direct Project is a combination private-public effort.  When the patient receives the email with a HealthVault address created, the information is automatically saved to the patient’s record.  This is making it simple as everyone pretty much knows how to do email today and all you need is the patient email address that connects with HeatlhVault.  If you are attending HIMSS this year, Microsoft will be running a demo in their booth to show how it works. 

If you don’t have a HealthVault PHR, there’s always a link here to the site to make it easy for you to find it and get started.  HealthVault is spreading world wide and beyond the US and the link below talks about how Siemens is working with HealthVault in Germany. 

Microsoft HealthVault and Siemens Bringing PHR Platform to Germany – And a Look at a German HER

Besides all of the news today, Sean at HealthVault has promised that Kinect will someday entering the picture, record all your activity to HealthVault too on day, so if you are going to be the plane in World of Warcraft, you might as well see what your activity levels are and how much exercise you and your heart are drilling in to.  BD 

Could HealthVault Develop a Hack For Kinect Like World of Warcraft Has? (Video)

Press Release:

Interoperable e-mail messaging service launched with new version of Microsoft HealthVault enables physicians to share patient health information electronically.

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- During a Health & Human Services event in D.C. today, Microsoft Corp. announced new encrypted e-mail functionality for Microsoft HealthVault, which allows clinical partner solutions to send messages to patients based on security protocols set forth by the Office of the National Coordinator's (ONC's) Direct Project. Through this offering, every HealthVault record will be able to automatically accept mails directly from healthcare providers. Initial partners include MedPlus and VisionShare Inc., which have integrated the new service with their solutions to help clinical users secure messages they send to patients. The three companies are pioneering members of the Direct Project and will demonstrate the capabilities of their solutions in the Interoperability Showcase at the 2011 Annual HIMSS Conference & Exhibit (HIMSS 2011) as part of the Office of the National Coordinator's exhibit.

"The initial goal of the Direct Project is to specify a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet," said Wes Rishel, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner. "It is exciting to see early, real-world examples of applications based on the Direct Project's security protocols emerging through the efforts of the private sector. Through public-private partnerships such as these we are starting to see the sharing of critical information across the health system."

Through this functionality, an encrypted copy of an individual's clinical information can be electronically transmitted to a patient's new e-mail address created within Microsoft HealthVault, where it is automatically saved to the patient's HealthVault account as part of their longitudinal personal health record. The service may be used to read or download the information. Direct Project messaging with security-enhanced technologies enables clinical solution providers to meet Phase One Meaningful Use requirements for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program by providing patients with their health information, as well as proposed Phase Two requirements, which call for secure online patient messaging.

"Through the Direct Project, and our work with Microsoft HealthVault, Quest Diagnostics Care360™ EHR is providing the physician community with an effective way to transmit comprehensive clinical information directly to patients and to realize the financial incentives of achieving meaningful use," said Richard A. Mahoney, Quest Diagnostics vice president of Healthcare Information Solutions and president of its MedPlus healthcare information technology subsidiary. "With Care360 EHR, physicians can securely and easily collaborate and share information with the goal of improving patient care."

ONC's Direct Project says it benefits providers and patients by improving the direct transport of structured and unstructured health information, making it secure, fast, inexpensive, and, for some applications, interoperable. Using Direct Project addresses, a care provider can send and receive important clinical information, connecting to other stakeholders across the country.

"This service and our early partnerships are accelerating the ability for patients to become active participants in managing their health," said Sean Nolan, distinguished engineer and chief architect, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. "As one of the first examples of the Direct Project security protocols being utilized to meet Meaningful Use requirements, this interoperability is a step on the road map to the goal of expanding secure online interactions between physicians and patients."

Microsoft is also working with VisionShare, a leader in e-health connectivity, to advance the goals of the Direct Project. Both companies are participating in a Direct Project Pilot Implementation to demonstrate the feasibility of using the Direct Project communication protocols, security model and addressing mechanism to submit immunization data from providers into a state immunization information system with security-enhanced technologies. Information on the pilot, which began sending data on Jan. 12, will be available after the completion of the program.

Demonstrations of Microsoft HealthVault encrypted e-mail can be seen in scenarios presented by MedPlus and VisionShare at the Interoperability Showcase during HIMSS 2011 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 20–24.

About Microsoft in Health

Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 13 years, Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Microsoft Amalga, Microsoft HealthVault, and a portfolio of identity and access management technologies acquired from Sentillion Inc. in 2010. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to deliver health solutions for the way people aspire to work and live.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

Microsoft Delivers Online Encrypted E-mail Using Direct Project Security Protocols -- REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 2, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --


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