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MiHIN Signs Agreement for Secure Electronic Exchange of Health Information

March 6, 2013
by John DeGaspari
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Aim is secure information exchange across state boundaries
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The East Lansing, Mich.-based Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) Shared Services signed an agreement with digital certificate provider DigiCert and health information services provider (HISP) Nitor Group to use DigiCert’s federally bridged certificates for secure interstate sharing of electronic health information. MiHIN says the agreement will help improve healthcare outcomes for Michigan residents by providing a means by which patients, providers and insurers can securely exchange private medical records across state boundaries. It also says the agreement model of an effective public-private relationship to other states working to implement and carry out the meaningful use stages.

MiHIN says the solution allows it to issue federally bridged digital certificates from DigiCert to efficiently and securely transfer encrypted electronic health records of Michigan residents between accredited healthcare providers and insurers with respect to Michigan residents wherever they may receive treatment. The capability shortens the time required to receive critical electronic records at the point of care and improve patient outcomes while also lowering costs.

DigiCert is the first publicly trusted Certificate Authority to issue certificates that meet the Direct protocols for health information exchange and are cross-certified with the Federal Bridge Certification Authority, according to the statement. It has taken a role in drafting the governance aspects of the Direct protocol that will be used in the DirectTrust community, and has worked with HISPs, insurers and state exchanges to support compliance across the country.

MiHIN Chief Security Officer Brian Seggie commented, “With DigiCert’s new federally bridged security certificates MiHIN is now able to go into full production with secure exchange of patient health information between Michigan and our five border states, our ‘snowbird’ states in warmer climes, and other states that Michigan residents frequently visit where they sometimes receive treatment. In some sense, this is as exciting as building the interstate highway system, but for the timely and secure exchange of information between states that will improve patient outcomes and in some cases, potentially save lives.”

MiHIN Senior Integration and Design Architect Jeff Shaw observed, “Using the Direct secure message technology and these new enhanced certifications allows MiHIN to transport health information while ensuring that the information remains securely encrypted between providers in Michigan and in other states. Using federally bridged certificates also allows exchange with federal agencies, such as the Center for Disease Control for public health issues and the Veterans Health Administration to ensure that those who served our country receive the best care possible. This secure means of sharing health information across state lines gives health professionals across the nation an easy-to-use platform that can also scale upwards to grow as health information sharing evolves.”

The Direct Project was initiated in early 2010 under the direction of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the ONC with the goal of benefitting patients and providers by improving the transport of health information, making it faster, more secure and less expensive. Its goals is to establish scalable standards and documentation to support simple scenarios of pushing data from point-to-point in a trusted way that improves interoperability by providing rules-based methods of interstate and interagency sharing.