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Health Data Exchange Grows, Direct Message Use Jumps 63% in 2018

An increasing number of providers are engaging in health data exchange, with Direct message transactions up 63 percent in 2018.

DirectTrust continues to grow with health data exchange transactions up 63 percent in 2018.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Health data exchange continues to grow nationwide as Direct message transactions increase by 63 percent in 2018.

DirectTrust announced steady growth in the number of healthcare organizations utilizing Direct exchange over the past year, along with an uptick in patient use and Direct addresses.

According to the nonprofit industry alliance, there were nearly 274 million Direct message transactions between DirectTrust users in 2018, up from 168 million transactions in 2017.

Additionally, more than 110 million Direct messages were sent in the fourth quarter of 2018.

“The trends that emerged in 2018 are becoming more pronounced and growth more broad-based,” said DirectTrust President and CEO Scott Stuewe. “During the fourth quarter, nearly all DirectTrust accredited member organizations experienced growth in both transactions and the number of messages per address.”

“This demonstrates an increase in the adoption of Direct Secure Messaging for transitions of care, and for other care coordination and population health purposes,” Stuewe added.

The number of patients using Direct services increased by about 35 percent over the past year to nearly 248,000. Furthermore, the number of healthcare organizations utilizing services provided by DirectTrust accredited health information service providers (HISPs) jumped 30 percent to approximately 139,000.

This compared to about 107,000 healthcare organizations served by HISPs in 2017.

“As we move into 2019, we’re convening our EHR company members to identify new ways to improve the adoption of Direct Secure Messaging Workflows,” said Stuewe. “We’re excited by the potential for even more rapid growth as our membership identifies opportunities for improvement.”

The number of DirectTrust addresses capable of sharing protected health information (PHI) across the DirectTrust network also increased over the past year by 16 percent. More than 1.8 million Direct addresses currently share PHI.

Currently, DirectTrust’s national network includes five governmental trust anchor bundle HISPs, 36 Accredited Trust Anchor Bundle HISPs, and 38 DirectTrust-EHNAC accredited HISPs.

All told, eleven healthcare organizations joined DirectTrust over the past year, bumping the alliance’s total membership up to 115 organizations.

By joining DirectTrust, these organizations will assist in helping to enforce standards and best practices necessary to improve health data exchange security and interoperability.

DirectTrust has been experiencing continued steady growth since its inception six years ago. The alliance was developed by and for participants in the Direct exchange network to enable secure, interoperable exchange of PHI between provider organizations and patients in the interest of improving care coordination and care quality.

The goal of the alliance is to develop and promote standards that enable security and trust within the Direct community according to the HITECH Act and governance rules for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN) established by ONC.

DirectTrust recently underwent changes in leadership, with former DataFile Technologies Direct of Strategy and Interoperability Scott Stuewe taking the helm as the new President and CEO of DirectTrust in July, 2018.

Stuewe replaced former DirectTrust President and CEO David Kibbe, MD.  

“I am honored to join DirectTrust,” said Stuewe in a press release. “I look forward to working with our members to build on the impressive growth of this secure network achieved by Dr. Kibbe and the HIT community in just a short time,” he continued.

Kibbe stepped down as DirectTrust President and CEO after six years with the alliance. Kibbe continues to serve as DirectTrust’s senior advisor.

“Under David’s leadership, DirectTrust has become a leading force in the drive to improve healthcare information exchange and interoperability,” said DirectTrust Board Chair Bruce Schrieber. “We are thrilled he will continue to be a trusted advisor to our organization through the end of the year.”

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