Microsoft announced new e-mail encryption functionality for Microsoft HealthVault today, allowing clinical partner solutions to send messages to patients securely based on security protocols set forth by the Office of the National Coordinator’s (ONC’s) Direct Project.
Using the new encryption technologies, every HealthVault record will be able to automatically accept mails directly from healthcare providers. Initial partners include MedPlus and VisionShare Inc., which have integrated the new service with their solutions to help clinical users secure messages they send to patients.
How does it work? Using the HealthVault system, an encrypted copy of an individual’s clinical information can be electronically transmitted to a patient’s new e-mail address created within Microsoft HealthVault, where it is saved to the patient’s HealthVault account as part of their “longitudinal personal health record.” The service may be used to read or download the information. Direct Project messaging with security-enhanced technologies enables clinical solution providers to meet Phase One Meaningful Use requirements for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program by providing patients with their health information, as well as proposed Phase Two requirements, which call for secure online patient messaging.
“The initial goal of the Direct Project is 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,” said Wes Rishel, vice president and distinguished analyst, Gartner. “It is exciting to see early, real-world examples of applications based on the Direct Project’s security protocols emerging through the efforts of the private sector. Through public-private partnerships such as these we are starting to see the sharing of critical information across the health system.”
“Through the Direct Project, and our work with Microsoft HealthVault, Quest Diagnostics Care360™ EHR is providing the physician community with an effective way to transmit comprehensive clinical information directly to patients and to realize the financial incentives of achieving meaningful use,” said Richard A. Mahoney, Quest Diagnostics vice president of Healthcare Information Solutions and president of its MedPlus healthcare information technology subsidiary. “With Care360 EHR, physicians can securely and easily collaborate and share information with the goal of improving patient care.” ONC’s Direct Project says it benefits providers and patients by improving the direct transport of structured and unstructured health information, making it secure, fast, inexpensive, and, for some applications, interoperable. Using Direct Project addresses, a care provider can send and receive important clinical information, connecting to other stakeholders across the country.
“This service and our early partnerships are accelerating the ability for patients to become active participants in managing their health,” said Sean Nolan, distinguished engineer and chief architect, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. “As one of the first examples of the Direct Project security protocols being utilized to meet Meaningful Use requirements, this interoperability is a step on the road map to the goal of expanding secure online interactions between physicians and patients.”
Over the past 13 years, Microsoft has increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own health solutions, such as Microsoft Amalga, Microsoft HealthVault, and a portfolio of identity and access management technologies acquired from Sentillion Inc. in 2010.