NHIN Direct to Launch Pilot Testing Soon

The Office of the National Coordinator will begin pilot testing NHIN Direct health information exchange standards in late December or early January.

Once draft specifications are completed this month, the NHIN Direct team will begin work with seven organizations that will exchange health information using Direct standards and specifications, according to Arien Malec, the NHIN Direct project director, who presented an update on the project at an October meeting of the Health IT Standards Committee.

NHIN Direct, a simplified version of the government-developed Nationwide Health Information Network, will allow healthcare providers to complete simple, secure, one-to-one exchanges of health data over the Internet. The specifications are intended to help providers achieve the level of health information exchange called for in the first stage of the federal “meaningful use” EHR adoption incentive program.

The HIT Standards Committee will evaluate the pilots’ effectiveness in March 2011. Depending on their success, the pilots could be expanded into wide-scale deployment of NHIN Direct by 2012, Malec said.

“Each of these implementation pilots is focusing on key aspects of meaningful use measures,” Malec told the committee. A goal of the pilots is successful incorporation of the NHIN Direct standards in a real-world setting, illustrating that anyone can easily adopt the platform.

Seven total pilot programs will launch by early January in facilities spread throughout the country.

Three of the pilot participants will test NHIN Direct’s ability to exchange patient referrals and aid transitions of care:

  • MedAllies, a New York-based EHR provider
  • The Rhode Island Quality Institute, a collaboration of state organizations that promote EHRs
  • Redwood MedNet, a Northern California-based health information exchange

These pilots will focus primarily on providing continuity of care and transitions of care, Malec said. In many cases they are expected to provide closed loop referrals.

The Rhode Island Quality Institute will also participate in the pilot by sending healthcare provider data to the institute’s quality registry.

Software developer VisionShare will run two pilots out of Oklahoma and Minnesota and will test NHIN Direct’s ability to connect providers to state immunization registries.

The Tennessee-based health information exchange organization CareSpark will also take part in the pilot, supporting care coordination between Veterans Affairs Department facilities and private community-based clinics.

Background and working documents on NHIN Direct are available on the Direct Project wiki.

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