The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) announced that providers and public health agencies in Minnesota and Rhode Island began this month exchanging health information using specifications developed by the Direct Project, an ‘open government’ initiative that calls on cooperative efforts by organizations in the health care and information technology sectors. Other Direct Project pilot programs will also be launched soon in New York, Connecticut, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma and California to demonstrate the effectiveness of the streamlined Direct Project approach, which supports information exchange for core elements of patient care and public health reporting.
The launch of the pilot demonstrations, less than a year from the inception of the Direct Project, shows the project is on track to give U.S. health care providers early access to an easy-to-use, internet-based tool that can replace mail and fax transmissions of patient data with secure and efficient electronic health information exchange.
Designed as part of President Obama’s 'open government' initiative to drive rapid innovation, the Direct Project last year brought together some 200 participants from more than 60 companies and other organizations. The volunteers worked together to assemble consensus standards that support secure exchange of basic clinical information and public health data. Now, pilot testing of information exchange based on Direct Project specifications is being carried out on schedule this year, aiming toward formal adoption of the standards and wide availability for providers by 2012.