Direct ProjectThe Direct Project was launched by the ONC within Health and Human Services (HHS) on March 1, 2010. ... More Series, 2 of 3. (See part 1, Direct Project, The Basics and Part 3: Direct Project’s Use of Healthcare Standards)

The Direct ProjectThe Direct Project was launched by the ONC within Health and Human Services (HHS) on March 1, 2010. ... More has the capability to significantly change the way providers share information, including the potential to replace TCP/IPTransmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is a low-level communications protocol used... More over VPN.

TCP/IPTransmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is a low-level communications protocol used... More has traditionally been the go-to data communication method used by hospitals when they need a live, direct connection to their provider community. This is because the hospital can utilize the same protocol they are using within the four walls of their facility and securely extend it outside the facility using VPN. VPN connections, however, can be time consuming to set up and costly to maintain.

The Direct protocol is an ideal substitute for VPNs. Patient health data can be sent securely, sent on demand, and sent using the SMTP protocol. The HL7HL7 is a Standards Developing Organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (... More message payloadPayload refers to the content of the message being sent (i.e., the message body). can be parsed and sent/received automatically.

Direct project also has the potential to replace, or displace, some of the need for Web Services. For example, when a patient is discharged from the hospital the workflow may require that the Discharge Summary document be forwarded to the local HIE. In order to do this, point-to-point SOAP-based Web ServicesWeb services are a standardized way of integrating applications. Using open standards, businesses ca... More might be utilized, or the POST command for RESTful Web ServicesWeb services are a standardized way of integrating applications. Using open standards, businesses ca... More would work as well. But, Direct has the same capability to attach a document to a secure e-mail and send it to the HIEHealth Information Exchange (HIE) focuses on the mobilization of healthcare information electronical... More.

what direct cannot replace is the query-based web servicesWeb services are a standardized way of integrating applications. Using open standards, businesses ca... More, which are often seen as more complex to implement. query-based communications are common in an emergency department scenario: a patient arrives at the hospital and the physician needs to query the local hieHealth Information Exchange (HIE) focuses on the mobilization of healthcare information electronical... More for all medical information available about the patient. 

check back next week for part 3 of my series on direct, which will focus on its use of healthcare standards.

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