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Health Information Exchanges Cross Interoperability Milestone

Ohio and Mississippi become the first states to complete an interstate transaction using Direct Project standards.
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In another step that marks a new chapter in the growth and development of state health information exchanges (HIEs), physicians' offices in Lima, Ohio, and Biloxi, Miss., sent and received health information across state lines, making both states the first in the nation to successfully do so using Direct Project secure messaging protocols.

Health IT vendor Medicity made the announcement Friday and noted that the transmission was facilitated by Ohio's statewide HIE, CliniSync, which connected with the Mississippi Health Information Network (MS-HIN), Mississippi's state-designated HIE. CliniSync, which is operated by the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP) and MS-HIN are both clients of Medicity.

"The significance of this Direct messaging is that the dream to create a healthcare system among states is now real. Imagine what this will mean to people who travel, who spend half the year in Florida, who move from state to state. Their records will be accessible wherever they are so that they can be cared for and treated with all of the information a doctor needs to give them the best care," Dan Paoletti, CEO of OHIP, told InformationWeek Healthcare.

[ Which healthcare organizations came out ahead in the IW500 competition? See 10 Healthcare IT Innovators: InformationWeek 500. ]

Describing the state-to-state exchange between physician offices as a "historical moment for us in Ohio," Paoletti also said that it's crucial for physicians to have quick access to patient information so that they can communicate and coordinate care for patients where they need it and when they need it.

"No more faxing, phone calls, mail delivery, and couriers. Health information exchanges across states will save time, money, and lives all across the country," Paoletti said.

The exchange of data between two physician offices located in two separate states marks a milestone for the Direct Project, which has developed a set of standards, policies, and services that enable the transport of encrypted emails containing health information between healthcare organizations, such as physicians, hospitals, and labs.

While Direct Project standards have been used to share data within the same state for nearly a year, this marks the first time the standard has been used to share data across state lines. The Direct Project was established through the National Health Information Network within the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC).

"We at ONC are excited to see this first productive use of Direct protocols for the exchange of health information between two states," Dr. Farzad Mostashari, ONC's national coordinator for health IT, said in a statement.

"This is just one small step in our journey to connect medical and healthcare professionals across the nation, so that all Americans can receive the best healthcare possible," Mostashari said. "We know electronic health records can save time, money, and lives. But most of all, we know doctors can better coordinate the care they give to patients when they can electronically share that information at the right time, in the right place."

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