Will patients or members of the public be able to contact a provider via a Direct address, since this information will be publicly available in NPPES?
RESPONSE: The main purpose of a Direct address is for providers to exchange health information with each other over the internet in a standardized, secure manner. In general, “Direct” is a technical standard for exchanging health information between health care organizations. Direct is similar to email, but different in important ways. For example, Direct messages are authenticated and encrypted in a specific way to ensure that data are sent and received only by authorized parties. Direct is also formatted slightly differently than personal email. There are some providers who use the Direct technology to communicate with their patients through their patient portals; however, the intent of this technology is not to serve as a regular email exchange for members of the public or patients. Direct addresses are available from a variety of sources, including electronic health record (EHR) vendors, State Health Information Exchange entities, regional and local Health Information Exchange entities, as well as private service providers offering Direct exchange capabilities called Health Information Service Providers (HISPs).