Five health care organizations in Chattanooga and Memphis will participate in the pilot phase of the Health eShare Direct Project, a new initiative designed to improve health care by helping health care providers securely share electronic health information.
The Chattanooga-based providers are HealthSouth Chattanooga Rehabilitation Hospital, Erlanger Health System, Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, and Home Health Care of East Tennessee, Inc. and Hospice. The Memphis-based participant is Health Choice, LLC, a joint venture between MetroCare Physicians and Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare that has developed a patient-centered medical home model for the Mid-South region called Memphis Accountable Care Home (MACH1).
The Health eShare Direct Project is spearheaded by the Tennessee Regional Extension Center, or tnREC, a division of Qsource, a Tennessee-based nonprofit health care quality improvement and information technology company, and supported by the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives. Qsource will work with providers to familiarize them with Direct technology, a secure email-like service that will be the infrastructure that facilitates health information exchange (HIE) in Tennessee. Providers who register for a Direct email address can securely send and receive messages containing health information to each other. Those interested in signing up for a Direct account should visit www.HealtheShareTN.com.
“We are eager to work with Qsource to begin establishing an effective and secure method to share health information,” said Mitch Graves, CEO of Health Choice. “In an era where health care spending is under the microscope, we want to ensure providers can always offer high-quality care while reducing costs. Using Direct technology to safely transmit patient data between providers, hospitals, home health agencies, nursing homes and other care settings is the best way to do that. We’re excited to be part of the Health eShare Direct Project, and we encourage other providers to join us.”
“Participating in the Health eShare Direct Project will build much-needed informational bridges among providers that will improve patient care, which is our ultimate goal,” said Laurene Vamprine, vice president and chief information officer of Erlanger Health System.
The Health eShare Direct Project will help providers meet Stage 2 meaningful use requirements. Starting in 2014, providers will need to demonstrate to the federal government that they are effectively using electronic health records and securely sharing patients’ health information with other providers. The simple, affordable and secure technology known as Direct satisfies these requirements by allowing doctors access to various health care data sources and offering data exchange at transitions of care.
“The project is a great opportunity for health care providers to effortlessly comply with federal requirements governing health information exchange,” said George Beckett, Health IT coordinator for the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives. “Once these providers in Chattanooga and Memphis begin using Direct services to communicate and share information, we hope they will be excited about how easy it is to use and will quickly see the time-saving and cost-saving benefits.”
Direct requires the use of a certified Health Information Service Provider (HISP) such as ICA, a leading technology vendor that Qsource has partnered with for this pilot. ICA is recognized by DirectTrust.org, a national non-profit industry group dedicated to secure HIE. An incentive program is available for early adopters to help offset the cost of signing up for a Direct account.
The pilot program will start in March and last for three months. Qsource also plans to work with additional communities on similar pilot programs in the near future. Providers interested in being considered a part of these pilot communities or learning more about upcoming opportunities should contact Qsource at 866 514-8595.
The Health eShare Direct Project will also have significant impacts on the Chattanooga Regional Medicare Community-based Care Transitions Program.
“Direct will enable community partners across Chattanooga-area health systems to securely deliver care transition documents for high risk Medicare beneficiaries,” said Thomas E. Preston, assistant director of the Southeast Tennessee Area Agency on Aging and Disability, a group that provides health coaches to patients to ensure a smooth transition of care. The agency, part of the Chattanooga Regional Health Innovation Coalition, is spearheading the area’s Community-based Care Transitions Program funded by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.