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Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service Move Forward with Direct Data Exchange

October 15, 2015
by Heather Landi
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) are the first federal agencies to receive accreditation by DirectTrust, enabling the two agencies to use the health data exchange platform.

Both agencies recently received accreditation from DirectTrust and the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) and this accreditation sets them up to communicate directly and securely with thousands of hospitals, medical practices and healthcare professionals in the private sector regardless of the EHR systems used, David Kibbe, M.D., DirectTrust president and CEO, said in a press release.

DirectTrust is a healthcare industry alliance created by and for participants in the Direct exchange network used for secure, interoperable exchange of personal health information.

“Bringing secure, identity-validated, Direct health information exchange to these federal agencies is a major milestone in this country’s journey toward full national interoperability of our health IT systems,” said Dr. Kibbe.  “The DirectTrust network is strengthening our security and identity requirements in order to match those of the federal agencies. This is good for the federal partners, and it is wonderful for millions of veterans and the Native American people served by the IHS, as it will allow care coordination to be greatly improved.”

Lee Stevens, director, Office of State Policy, Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), said, “ONC congratulates the Department of Veterans Affairs and Indian Health Service on this important milestone.  It represents another step toward widespread, trusted, and secure health information exchange among federal agencies and the private sector.  As a long-time partner, we also congratulate Direct Trust on its continued progress to expand interoperable exchange services across the U.S. ONC would also like to recognize the Federal Health Architecture (FHA) and its participating agencies who were instrumental in shaping the federal use of Direct.”

“Given the explosive growth in EHNAC-DirectTrust accredited members and substantial benefits of electronic health information exchange via Direct, we anticipate that the Department of Defense, Medicare/CMS, and other state and federal agencies will shortly follow the path of the VA and Indian Health Services,” Dr. Kibbe stated.

Commenting on the accreditation, the Department of Veterans Affairs stated, “DTAAP [Direct Trusted Agent Accreditation Program] elevates VA Direct Messaging as a trusted partner with the nationwide Direct community. For Veterans, Direct improves the coordination of patient care by making it faster and easier for VA and non-VA health care providers to share veteran health information. Information can be shared in a secure Direct message instead of faxing, hand-carrying, and mailing. With VA and non-VA partners sharing veterans’ health data, they are less likely to repeat tests and procedures, thereby reducing duplication of services.”

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