Monday, November 29, 2010

Direct Project and the New Health Internet

After nine months of gestation, we are witnessing the birth of a new platform for health information communication. In the post below, we outline some of the developments of the Direct Project (formerly NHIN Direct) and hopefully give a sense of the exciting future for the Health Internet. Arien Malec and Brian Behlendorf have worked to shepherd the project, along with a host of volunteers, through to this point. The project is not complete, but we have achieved some major milestones. Arien, the leader of the project working with the Office of The National Coordinator, sent out a message of thanks last week to those who have been working so hard to bring this baby into the word. He said:
“A little under 9 months ago, we launched this project with the sketch of a dream: universal addressing and secure transport that would enable health information exchange reaching patients and providers where they are and where they are going in support of meaningful use and improved health outcomes.
In that 9 months, we've agreed and disagreed, formed, stormed, normed and performed, and accomplished great things. We have two specifications that are content complete (needing editorial review and revision); two reference implementations that are at a 1.0 state and can "out of the box, just add trust" enable exchange with a simple install and configuration; some amazing documentation, from the elegant generalist overview, to the most geeked out installation and programming guides; a compelling presentation; solid best practices and security reviews to protect privacy, security and trust; and some incredible implementation geographies integrating directed exchange into physician workflow to enable meaningful use and improved quality. We are seeing multiple organizations, from commercial HIT organizations to public-private health information exchange organizations building Direct specifications into their products and building Direct implementations into their business plans and missions.
It has been incredibly humbling being part of this process, because the Direct Project has truly been about "we": an organization of glorious individuals who have come together on a volunteer basis to accomplish great things. None of what we have accomplished would be there without you, and the energy, brilliance and hard work you have put into this project.”
There has been a great deal of effort so far, but there is still a need for coders and developers, especially those with skills in open source, to work on stuff that matters in the healthcare arena. Check out the different Workgroups and see where you might fit in and be sure to attend the free NHIN University. A group of us have been working in the Communications Workgroup of the project, and three of us collaborated on the post below. Read on for a glimpse of what has been accomplished so far and where we are heading…

Healthcare Messages Over the Internet: The Direct Project

This post was co-authored by Brian Ahier, Rich Elmore and David C. Kibbe.

The Direct Project announced today the completion of its open-source connectivity-enabling software and the start of a series of pilots that will be demonstrating directed secure messaging for healthcare stakeholders over the Internet.

The Direct Project specifies a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send encrypted health information directly to trusted recipients over the Internet.

Also announced:
  • A new name: the Direct Project was previously known as NHIN Direct.
  • An NHIN University course, "The Direct Project - Where We Are Today," to be presented by Arien Malec, Nov. 29 at 1 PM ET, sponsored by the National eHealth Collaborative.
  • More than 20 health IT (HIT) vendors have announced plans to use the Direct Project for message transport in connection with their solutions and services.
  • Presentations at the HIT Standards Committee on Tuesday, Nov. 30, where three or more vendors will be announcing their support for the Direct Project.
  • A thorough documentation library, including a Direct Project Overview.
  • Best practice guidance for directed messaging based on the policy work of the Privacy and Security Tiger team.
  • A new website at
  • A new hashtag, #directproject, for following the Direct Project on Twitter.

The Direct Project is the collaborative and voluntary work of a group of healthcare stakeholders representing more than 50 provider, state, health information exchange (HIE) and HIT vendor organizations. More than 200 participants have contributed to the project. Its rapid progress, transparency, and community consensus approach have established it as a model of how to drive innovation at a national level.

(continue reading at O'Reilly Radar)


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