The Direct Project was launched by the ONC within Health and Human Services (HHS) on March 1, 2010. It was initially called NHIN Direct. The object of the Direct Project is to replace the use of faxes, phones, and paper transactions with a simple and... Series, 2 of 3. (See part 1, Direct Project, The Basics  and Part 3: Direct Project’s Use of Healthcare Standards )
The Direct Project has the capability to significantly change the way providers share information, including the potential to replace Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) is a low-level communications protocol used to connect hosts on the Internet or a network. TCP/IP connections are established between clients and servers via sockets. TCP/IP is stream-oriented ... over VPN.
TCP/IP 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 HL7 is a Standards Developing Organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to author consensus-based standards representing a board view from healthcare system stakeholders. HL7 has compiled a collection of message form... message payload 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 services are a standardized way of integrating applications. Using open standards, businesses can communicate without in-depth knowledge of one another’s systems, beyond the communication protocol. Because all communication is XML-based, web se... might be utilized, or the POST command for RESTful Web Services would work as well. But, Direct has the same capability to attach a document to a secure e-mail and send it to the Health Information Exchange (HIE) focuses on the mobilization of healthcare information electronically across organizations within a region or community. HIE provides the capability to electronically move clinical information between disparate health....
what direct cannot replace is the query-based web services, 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 hie 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.