Palomar Health Now Testing DIRECT Messaging Technology for Secure Exchange of Patient Information among Health Care Providers

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Pilot implementation in San Diego County health care district allows participating providers to exchange patient health information per the secure messaging protocols defined by the DIRECT Project.

We believe the potential of the DIRECT Project and HPDPlus standards has yet to be fully realized, and we seek to explore the utility of these standards in our community,

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Palomar Health, the largest health care district in California, is piloting a clinical messaging infrastructure that enables the secure exchange of electronic health record information across its 2,200-square mile trauma area in Southern California.

The system uses the DIRECT Project’s protocols for secure messaging and the HPDPlus specifications for online physician directories, which have been proposed as national standards to facilitate secure patient data exchange among independent health care providers.

The participating health care organizations include all three Palomar Health hospitals- the new Palomar Medical Center and Palomar Health Downtown Campus in Escondido and Pomerado Hospital in Poway, in addition to Arch Health Partners, the Arthritis Care and Research Center, Escondido Pulmonology Medical Group, Graybill Medical Group, North County Internists, and Palomar Medical Group. The outpatient facilities range from solo practitioners to large multi-specialty physician groups.

“We believe the potential of the DIRECT Project and HPDPlus standards has yet to be fully realized, and we seek to explore the utility of these standards in our community, as well as explore ways in which they may be improved," Palomar Health Chief Innovation Officer Orlando Portale said. “In particular, we want to establish a reference model for DIRECT Messaging that could be shared with other healthcare organizations throughout California."

The technologies being piloted enable the secure electronic delivery of inpatient and emergency department discharge summaries to primary care physicians, as well as the exchange of referral requests and consult notes between primary care physicians and specialists.

“It is exciting to see the first stages of the exchange of health information within our physician and healthcare community,” stated Alan Conrad, M.D., Managing Partner of North County Internists in Poway.

The purpose of the pilot is to assess the feasibility and soundness of the DIRECT and HPDPlus standards as the bases for a practical, cost-effective, and non-proprietary infrastructure for health information exchange (HIE) within and among medical communities, Portale said.

The pilot is primarily funded by a grant from the California Health Care Foundation under a contracting agreement with Sujansky and Associates, both based in Northern California, to provide project management and software integration services. Other organizations that have contributed technology and expertise include GSI Health in Philadelphia, Mirth Corporation in Costa Mesa and Sparseware in Carlsbad.

“This project is a great opportunity for the Palomar Health community and the broader HIE audience to road test the DIRECT Messaging model,” Sujansky and Associates President Walter Sujansky said. “We expect the project to show the value of DIRECT Messaging today, as well as the ways the model may be improved in the future.”

For more information about the project, please visit: http://www.sujansky.com/projects_DIRECT_pilot.html

About Palomar Health

Palomar Health is the largest public health-care district by area in California and the most comprehensive health care delivery system in northern San Diego County. It is governed by a publicly-elected board of directors, and its primary service area in Inland North San Diego County has more than 500,000 residents.

A Magnet® recognized health care system, Palomar Health has several facilities, including hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in Escondido and Poway as well as Palomar Health expresscare health centers in Escondido, Rancho Penasquitos and San Elijo Hills in San Marcos in North San Diego County and Temecula in Riverside County.

Palomar Health provides medical services in virtually all fields of medicine, including primary care, heart care, emergency services, trauma, cancer, orthopedics, women’s health, rehabilitation, robotic surgery and bariatric surgery.

For more information about Palomar Health, please visit http://www.PalomarHealth.org.

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