PA Group Kicks Off Direct Project-Based Data Sharing

Posted on July 13, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

You know, the whole Direct Project approach seems brain-dead simple compared to the elaborate EMR rollout we’re suffering through in this county. I don’t know why we didn’t try something like it first, before we consumed the resources of HIT CIOs from sea to shining sea. Really, the convolutions we’ve gone through seem so unnecessary! (climbing down off soapbox)

Anyway, I thought you’d be interested to hear that the Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative is doing its part to move the direct approach forward. The group has issued a grant encouraging providers to use Direct Project-based approaches to exchange patient health information. The idea is to capture providers who haven’t yet had the funds, time or willingness to roll out an EMR. Not only will this make life easier for providers, it will help them meet a portion of Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements, definitely an added blessing.

How the grant money will flow is as follows. The group has selected an approved health information service provider, whose job it is to actually handle the direct messaging traffic. The intermediary gets $250 for each provider which uses them to send direct messages.

According to Information Week, which spoke to the group’s officials, as many as 8,000 providers could potentially sign up for the program. This includes both providers that do and don’t have EMRs in place already. As state HIT coordinator Robert Torres told the magazine, providers with EMRs already in place can simply select out data and send it using the direct protocols, which support patient care records, referrals, discharge summaries and other clinical documents.

Bottom line, the Direct Project model rolls on. I say, more power to ‘em.