2001: The beginning
MedAllies’ Direct-enable solutions emerged, not from the 2010 pilot, but from years of successful health IT implementation in the Hudson Valley of New York. MedAllies evolved as clinical needs and technology became more sophisticated, and with that, a greater demand for the ability to move health information efficiently and effectively.
MedAllies was founded in 2001. Its initial mission: Bridge the connectivity gap between physicians and organizations via the Internet, providing ready access to administrative, demographic and clinical information. Over the years, it evolved into a company that leverages electronic health record (EHR) implementations to facilitate physician office redesign, improve office practice efficiencies, and enhance population health. It now has more than 10 years of experience running a health information exchange, and extensive experience in EHR implementations and workflow redesign. This has enabled MedAllies to achieve and sustain high levels of provider use, and improve clinical care.
2007: The “Genius Bar” of the Hudson Valley Initiative
In 2007, MedAllies joined with two other Hudson Valley healthcare organizations—Taconic IPA (TIPA) and the non-profit convener, Taconic Health Information Network and Community (THINC)—to form the Hudson Valley Initiative (HVI). The goal was to improve healthcare quality through advancements in patient care delivery models, payment reform and health IT tools. The shared vision: To improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare in the Hudson Valley through improved and sustainable care delivery models.
Via the Hudson Valley Initiative, MedAllies assisted physicians in implementing EHRs and helped primary care providers become patient-centered medical home. A 2012 survey shows EHR adoption in the Hudson Valley is 82 percent; it’s estimated to reach 93 percent within the next 12 months. Source: THINC
Simply put, MedAllies is the technical engine behind the success of the Hudson Valley Initiative.
The Direct Project builds on this success. It is meant to augment and improve existing data exchange capabilities. It is simple, secure, scalable, and standards-based.
MedAllies’ technical infrastructure enables providers to securely, accurately and instantly transfer vital clinical information in support of clinicians improving the care and outcomes of their patients, and achieving Meaningful Use requirements, MedAllies anticipates providing a national network capable of supporting interoperability of all physicians using certified EHR systems by the end of the year. By connecting providers who have installed certified EHR systems nationwide, MedAllies addresses real-world healthcare gaps, such as the lack of care coordination across care transitions. And it can do it in a way that is consistent with existing clinical workflows within EHRs. This leverages the government’s investment in EHR adoption and Meaningful Use.
2008-2010: Direct health information exchange
With the emergence of advanced primary care and increased focus on care coordination, physicians were eager to move beyond fax machines and start sharing health information electronically with each other. MedAllies has been developing a “push” style health information exchange (HIE) transactions since 2008 when it developed services for EHRs to send patient Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs) between primary care providers and specialists in what is known as a closed-loop referral.
The Direct Project was the next logical step.
The Direct Project is a groundbreaking national effort, under the auspices of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), to fast-track electronic information exchange. It benefits providers and patients by improving the transport of structured and unstructured health information across disparate EHR systems. The information transfer is secure, fast, inexpensive and interoperable. Importantly, it supports providers as they strive to meet Meaningful Use requirements.
The ONC invited MedAllies to join the Direct Project and help define new protocols for sharing health information. MedAllies was among the pioneers who helped develop and assemble consensus standards that support secure exchange of basic clinical information and public health data. Through collaboration across the healthcare technology spectrum, we came up with a series of protocols and standards necessary to securely push content from a sender to a receiver.
In 2010, the ONC selected the Hudson Valley as one of seven pilot sites to demonstrate health information exchange using Direct standards.
Each pilot was different; in MedAllies’ hands, Direct became a tool to advance primary care models that emphasize care coordination and improved care transitions. MedAllies’ Direct Project focuses on common care transition episodes: patient discharge from the hospital back to the primary care physician, a consultation request from a primary care physician to a specialist, and the clinical consultation report from the specialist back to the primary care physician.
2010-present: MedAllies Direct advances care coordination
Today, the MedAllies Direct HISP Solution builds on existing technology to achieve interoperability: Physicians use their current EHR systems. The essence of Direct is the capability for patient information, both discrete data, text data, and images, to be able to be pushed to providers across disparate EHR systems. Direct advances interoperability and can be used for anything from lab results delivery to quality measure reporting.
Because of the success of MedAllies and other pilots, Direct networks are opening across the country. Most simply offer secure email for providers; MedAllies is the original Direct HISP focused on using the technology for EHR interoperability.