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The State of Tennessee's Office of eHealth is currently focusing on a two-channel approach for secure health information exchange between providers.

First, the state is dedicated to the development of both public and private regional health information exchanges (HIEs) across the state which provide for the active querying of a patient's medical history from a variety of providers. These robust HIEs allow health care providers with the appropriate security access to inquire into a patient's medical records, gaining access to a full spectrum of that patient's care. This evolving technology will allow - for the first time - for providers to get a total picture of a patient's medical history and current treatment by their entire care team. Additionally, it will allow for advanced population health studies which will improve the overall quality of care in the state. Ultimately, the State will assist in enabling connections between these public and private exchanges to enable statewide query ability, as well as, connections to federal health care sources such as Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, CDC, CMS, SSA and more.

The second focus of the state is enabling the development of a secure, healthcare-specific messaging system that allows providers to send both messages and electronic documents to each other on an ad hoc basis whenever there is a need for such communications. This technology, called DIRECT, provides a more secure exchange mechanism for health information. It can also make it possible to reduce of the vast amount of faxing that currently takes place in the health care community.

The state is investing both federal and state grants, as well as, a great deal of time and effort into these initiatives. We are working closely with local health care leaders to ultimately provide this improved health care information highway to both providers and patients across the state.