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Blumenthal, Chopra Announce ‘Milestone’ in EHR Sharing

ONC Director Dr. David Blumenthal and federal CTO Aneesh Chopra, Photo: hhs.gov, ostp.gov

Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT Director Dr. David Blumenthal and federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra announced a “milestone” in electronic health technology.

Minnesota and Rhode Island became the first states to participate in pilot program for direct sharing of electronic health records via the Internet, known as the Direct Project.

“These efforts . . . mean we’re on schedule with a very important new tool that will soon enable health care providers to safely transmit patient data over the Internet, instead of relying on mail and fax,” the two posted in a blog entry on the ONC website.

Blumenthal and Chopra said the pilot program, which will soon expand to include New York, Connecticut, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Texas and California, is the first step toward making the Health Information Exchange accessible to healthcare providers nationwide.

The HIE aims to bolster the Health and Human Services Department’s efforts to get providers on board with using EHRs and other health IT practices.

The project came about because of the simple act of asking why not? Chopra said at a December forum on government and technology. Why shouldn’t a patient’s doctor be able to email (securely, of course) the patient’s EHR to another doctor?

That question was the genesis for the Direct Project, a large-scale public-engagement project that eschewed a traditional “top-down” approach.

Civic engagement led by the government, allowed developers to create solutions “in a way that advanced or unlocked some of the potential . . . (of) our Internet infrastructure, and you will see that play [out]  time and time again,” Chopra said.

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