U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Direct Project

Launched in March 2010 as a part of the Nationwide Health Information Network, the Direct Project was created to specify a simple, secure, scalable, standards-based way for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the internet. The Direct Project has more than 200 participants from over 50 different organizations. These participants include electronic health record and personal health record vendors, medical organizations, systems integrators, integrated delivery networks, federal organizations, state and regional health information organizations, organizations that provide health information exchange capabilities, and health information technology consultants.

The Direct Project focuses on the technical standards and services necessary to securely push content from a sender to a receiver and not the actual content exchanged. However, when these services are used by providers and organizations to transport and share qualifying clinical content, the combination of content and Direct-Project-specified transport standards may satisfy some Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements. For example, a primary care physician who is referring a patient to a specialist can use the Direct Project to provide a clinical summary of that patient to the specialist and to receive a summary of the consultation.

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