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4/6/2011
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Verizon, Medfx Pilot Health Information Exchange

Virginia test integrates federal Direct Project protocols and Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange standards to create secure, two-way exchange of patient health information.

Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
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Slideshow: Health IT Boosts Patient Care, Safety
Under the pilot, Dominion Medical Associates scans diabetes patients' paper-based care-management documents and sends them over the Internet to CenVaNet care managers, via a Medfx-provided physician portal. The portal uses a set of common standards and protocols to digitize and securely transfer the care-management documents, making them accessible on a wide variety of health IT systems.

The data is then tagged and stored in the MedVirginia Solution HIE. As a result, care managers from Dominion Medical Associates, CenVaNet, and MedVirginia are now able to share, store, and retrieve encrypted patient data and better coordinate patient care for the treatment of diabetes and other chronic conditions.

Mark Bamberg, VP of research and development at Medfx, said the harmonization of the Direct Project and NWHIN advanced the project by enabling informed patient care and bridging the communications gap between providers: both those that have and those without EHRs.

"For example, if the care manager receives a referral from a Dominion provider to provide care management services to a military veteran whose records reside at a VA clinic, those records are accessible for a more complete clinical view to support the coordination of patient services," Bamberg said in an interview.

Launched one year ago, the Direct Project, spearheaded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), specifies a secure, scalable, standards-based way for healthcare providers, payers, and others to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet.

The NWHIN Exchange is a collection of standards, protocols, legal agreements, specifications, and services that enables the secure exchange of health information over the Internet. The NWHIN Exchange is a key component of the nationwide health IT strategy and will provide a common platform for HIE across diverse entities, within communities, and across the country.

Michael Matthews, CEO for MedVirginia, said the pilot with Dominion Medical Group and CenVaNet, which started in mid-March, is one of many being conducted as part of the Direct Project. The goal of these pilots is to contribute to new product and service offerings for interoperable exchange, reduce costs for users, simplify the healthcare workflow, and increase coordination and quality of care.

"After three months, we plan to review lessons learned and adjust accordingly," Matthews said of the Dominion Medical Group and CenVaNet pilot. "The next steps include integration of the referrals into CenVaNet's Medical Home Information System, powered by Medfx, for a more efficient workflow."

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