top of page
About the Organization

The goal of MNBHN is to encourage providers to connect so we can provide better coordinated, better integrated care for individuals.

Direct Secure Messaging:

Enabling Electronic Communication Between Providers

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) encourages increased communication between providers in order to coordinate care. To accomplish better communication, providers are encouraged to use electronic health records that collect and store information in a digital format. Communication of digital protected health information raises confidentiality concerns for mental health and chemical dependency providers. However, a new technical capability known as DIRECT, provides an option to exchange Personal Health Information (PHI) with patient consent, through a safe, secure and nationally recognized standard for clinical messaging.

What is DIRECT?

Direct is a national encryption standard for securely exchanging clinical healthcare data via a Health Information Service Provider (HISP) and uses the Internet. It is also known as the Direct Project, Direct Exchange, and Direct Secure Messaging. Designed for health care, Direct specifies the secure, scalable and standards-based mentod for the exchange of PHI.

Direct is not encrypted email. Direct is an electronic push transaction that is initiated by a provider who is sending PHI to another provider who also is a user of Direct. Direct uses identity validation, and the electronic transport protocol has private/public encryption keys--so the message cannot be hacked, accessed or opened by anyone except the recipient who must also have a Direct Address in order to participate. A Direct Address is like an email address, only it is specific to your provider practice ( This makes it highly usable in behavioral health and chemical dependency treatment settings.

Unitl now, Minnesota has had very little information exchange through Direct. But the use of Direct is gaining popularity because of grant funding from State Innovation Model and ongoing support from the Federal government-- Office of the National Coordinator. With more than 1,179,006 Direct Addresses now in place across the nation, Direct is becoming a necessary communication tool for everyday provider practices--replacing insecure faxes and reducing redundancy in clinical workflow--putting the power of exchange at the figertips of the provider.

DSM Privacy Advantages
Direct is a form of Health information Exchange (HIE). However, Direct is not query-based exchange and patient information is not aggregated or shared across a larger HIE collaborative. Instead, Direct is a one-way communication between providers and information is not stored in a database. This allows providers to control the sharing of PHI based on patient consent and release of information preferences.
How Do I Get More Information About Direct?
Direct is a service sold by Health Information Service Providers (HISP). Direct Vendors for Behavioral Health are vetted by the state of Minnesota and certified as HIE Service Providers (MN HIESP). A list of MN HIESP are available on the Minnesota Department of Health Website.
This Site Also Provides Information About Vendors Appropriate for Behavioral Health and Chemical Dependency Services.
  • Google+ Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
bottom of page