Surescripts, AAFP launch secure clinical messaging service for doctors

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Surescripts, a company that connects physician offices and pharmacies online, and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) have joined forces to create a new nationwide service for clinical information exchange. Known as Physicians Direct, the service will allow physicians to message each other securely online. They will be able to attach referrals, care summaries, discharge summaries, lab results, and other data pertinent to patient care.

While physicians can continue to use Surescripts for electronic prescribing free of charge, they will have to pay $15 monthly each to use the Physicians Direct service. That charge will cover unlimited use of the service.

The 75,000 members of the AAFP will be able to connect to the Surescripts network and share information securely through the new AAFP Physicians Direct web portal, or through a choice of electronic health record systems. Amazing Charts, e-MDs and SOAPware--all of which make EHRs favored by small practices--have announced that they will link their EHR systems to the Surescripts network and participate in the Physicians Direct program.

Other kinds of physicians besides family doctors, including specialists, can subscribe to Physicians Direct. If a doctor is not on the network, a subscriber can send him or her an alert to pick up a message on the Physicians Direct website.

Use of Physicians Direct can help doctors meet the meaningful use requirements for information exchange, emphasized Glen Stream, MD, president-elect of the AAFP, at a press conference.

The Physicians Direct system will use the Direct Project protocol for sending messages between one practice and another. The result of a year-long public/private effort spearheaded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the Direct Project is a national standard for secure clinical messaging that permits care summaries and other data to be exchanged between disparate EHRs.

According to an AAFP/Surescripts joint announcement, Physicians Direct also incorporates other standards that will allow it to connect physicians through EHRs, web portals, and the health information exchanges of hospital systems.

To learn more:
- read the press release
- check out this Health Data Management article 

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