Secure electronic messaging, also known as direct messaging, is one of the mechanisms by which eligible hospitals and providers can comply with requirements of Meaningful Use (MU) Stage 2 certification. The technology allows secure communication between healthcare entities and with patients. Direct messaging provides a convenient, privacy-protected way for healthcare organizations to electronically exchange critical patient information such as transition of care documents, improving provider-to-provider communication and care coordination as patients move through the healthcare system.
Secure messaging is additionally beneficial because it can be used to promote care coordination between visits, handle routine health issues, address patient questions and concerns, monitor patient conditions, and help patients better manage their conditions. Secure messaging also can be convenient for handling routine nonclinical tasks such as medication refills and referrals.
To qualify for incentive payments under Meaningful Use Stage 2, eligible hospitals and eligible providers are required to electronically transmit transition of care documents, using the secure protocol within direct messaging. Since then, major health organizations have been pressed to rapidly adopt and implement direct messaging solutions that speed delivery of patient information through secured emails versus cumbersome, disjointed phone calls and faxes.
Dignity Health, the largest health system in California and the fifth largest health system in the US, has been no exception. With fiscal reimbursement for services at stake, Dignity needed to comply with MU Stage 2 as quickly as possible, including adopting secure electronic messaging.
Dignity Health turned to ZeOmega (previously HealthUnity) and ClearDATA to provide a secure, compliant direct messaging solution. Hosted on ClearDATA’s Managed Cloud Platform, the HealthUnity DIRECT™ messaging solution enables Dignity to communicate with their patients while protecting their privacy.
ClearDATA and HealthUnity together provided the right combination of technologies, healthcare-specific knowledge, and security expertise to rapidly implement the HealthUnity DIRECT messaging solution. HealthUnity offers privacy-aware solutions for enabling seamless collaboration between healthcare entities. ClearDATA delivers a secure, fully compliant data center infrastructure in the cloud to host patient data and power a variety of healthcare solutions, including direct messaging.
“When Dignity Health needed a secure electronic messaging solution—quickly in order to meet MU Stage 2 requirements—it relied on a partnership between ClearDATA and HealthUnity,” says Bruce Kleaveland, chief operating officer for HealthUnity. “Our collective privacy and security expertise, healthcare-specific technologies and infrastructures, and combined knowledge of compliance requirements made us a natural choice.”
HealthUnity partnered with ClearDATA to provide a secure, high performance data center for the HealthUnity DIRECT messaging solution, which was completed and implemented at Dignity within a few short weeks. HealthUnity was eager to work with ClearDATA for several reasons. These included ClearDATA’s responsiveness and acumen in working with the rigorous certification and security policies and procedures required for direct messaging, HIPAA-compliant infrastructure, and ability to collaborate responsively as a team with HealthUnity to deliver a solution quickly.
Today, the HealthUnity DIRECT messaging solution, which was delivered to Dignity in approximately a month, runs on the ClearDATA platform in the cloud. It provides health information exchange (HIE) to HIE interoperability by establishing a health information service provider (HISP) service, effectively connecting providers across the continuum of care. HealthUnity DIRECT also offers robust encryption for electronic message security, a built-in provider directory, and a certificate authority for reliable message decryption.
Healthcare organizations can deploy and manage the HealthUnity DIRECT solution with any compliant email solution such as Microsoft Exchange. Dignity Health, for instance, uses a web-based version of Microsoft Outlook for HealthUnity DIRECT, reducing training and boosting adoption rates due to users familiarity with the Outlook interface. Together, HealthUnity and ClearDATA offer implementation and support consulting services for healthcare organizations needing direct messaging solutions.
Dignity Health is expanding its use of the HealthUnity DIRECT messaging solution and HealthUnity and ClearDATA are offering the solution to other healthcare entities. Says Kleaveland, “With the DIRECT messaging solution, healthcare organizations can not only check a very important MU Stage 2 compliance box to qualify for reimbursement, but also can electronically and securely communicate with healthcare providers that exist outside their system to improve the quality and continuity of patient care.”