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Medical professionals to get immediate access to information

Jennifer Sprouse • Oct 2, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Instead of waiting days to find out test results from a procedure, patients, doctors and health care providers now have the option to obtain medical information via a secure electronic service.

According to a news release, Direct Technology, an initiative by Qsource and the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives, as well as part of Tennessee Health eShare Direct Project, is an email-like service that will give health care professionals immediate access to medical records through a secure channel.

Dawn FitzGerald, CEO of Qsource, said the secure email messaging system has been around for a while, but said protocols on the system’s use have evolved through the years, ensuring the confidential documents are secure and efficient.

“That exchange of information we have now is ... very slow. It’s expensive and it’s inadequate. It generally is defined by courier mail or telephone call. What we can do now with Direct is that we can more effectively send that clinical discharge information directly to a physician immediately after patient discharge,” FitzGerald said. “Direct even enables the physician to send lab orders and receive results in a structured format as well. There’s that communication that creates a much more efficient system and we don’t have those delays that can occur when we’re trying to send faxes or emails.”

She said patients will benefit from the service because results will be timely and doctors will be able to translate the documents collected by other health care facilities. FitzGerald said the process will help reduce errors when it comes to patient care and proper treatment because the doctors will have access to that patients information electronically.

“Far too often ... patient information is conveyed by the patient themselves sitting in the physician’s office, being asked what happened during your hospital stay,” she said. “The patient gets the benefit of not having to try to convey information that they may not understand as well as they should.”

While the technology resembles that of an email, FitzGerald said the system is secure.

“It is all about the security of information,” she said. “It is not information being submitted across the Internet, nor is it information that gets stored anywhere other than in these physician’s office medical records. Once that information is transmitted securely across those ... lines of communication, the only thing that remains is the audit that that record was submitted. No one but the sender and the receiver can see the contents of that information.”

Direct Technology will also help health care providers meet federal standards –– Meaningful Use Stage 2 –– by offering secure electronic data exchange capabilities at transitions of care, according to the release.

Direct Technology was piloted in health care communities in Chattanooga, Memphis and Hickman County, the release said, and FitzGerald said they are working in the Tri-Cities area to sign up provider participants.

“We are working across the state to help ... clinical office practices, long-term care facilities, home health, clinical case workers (and) hospitals,” she said. “We’re really trying to connect everybody who plays a part in a patient’s overall continuum of care. We’re really sort of focusing on identifying connectors in the community and then putting them in touch with ... their trading partners so that there’s a more effective communication vehicle that they’re able to use immediately upon getting that direct address.”

For more information, visit www.healthesharetn.com.

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