The Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative has announced a new grant program that aims to encourage doctors and other healthcare providers to begin securely exchanging health information over the Internet using direct messaging. This type of messaging looks to provide a secure and standards-based method to encourage electronic exchange of health information among providers, particularly those providers that do not have the resources or technical capacity to engage in more comprehensive health information exchange (HIE).
From now through Aug. 15, providers in the Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative can receive a free year of direct messaging services through an approved health information service provider (HISP). The PA eHealth Collaborative will provide HISPs with $250 for each provider they register.
"Technology and the Internet have advanced the capability to exchange health information electronically. However, many doctors and other health care providers still rely on fax machines and the mail to transmit patient records and other health information," Robert Torres, Health Information Technology Coordinator for the state, said in a statement. "Depending on their needs, direct can be a solution, or a first step toward more robust and advanced types of health information exchange."
Direct messaging can be used transmit patient care records, referrals, discharge summaries and other clinical documents. Both the sender and recipient must be subscribers. Pennsylvania was awarded $17.1 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help establish an HIE.