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Health IT Interoperability Continues Growth under DirectTrust

In Q2 2016, DirectTrust has increased its health data exchanges to 24 million, helping to support health IT interoperability.

By Sara Heath

DirectTrust has continued its expansion in the healthcare space, helping to boost health IT interoperability and health information exchange between numerous providers and hospitals.

According to a public statement from the organization, DirectTrust has grown by 40 percent in the second quarter of 2016, increasing in the number of healthcare organizations served by DirectTrust health information service providers (HISPs).

The number of direct exchanges of data also increased to 24 million this quarter. Compared with Q2 2015, this is a 79 percent increase. In total, DirectTrust, in partnership with the Electronic Health Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC), has accredited 44 HISPs.

Within those 24 million direct addresses, DirectTrust boosted the number of addresses which could exchange personal health information. The organization boosted this number by 49 percent this quarter, totaling to 1.3 million addresses.

These numbers are indicative of DirectTrust’s ability to securely and efficiently host HIE for healthcare providers, says the organization’s president and CEO David C. Kibbe, MD, MBA.

“The network is demonstrating its reliability and cost-effectiveness for moving data of many types—including structured CCDAs, PDF, Word, and image files—across the boundaries of organizations and health IT systems’ from different vendors,” he said in a press release.

Beyond DirectTrust’s own improvements, Kibbe also says the market increase is indicative of an industry-wide shift toward secure direct messaging as the foremost method for physician-to-physician communication.

“The data demonstrate that Direct messaging continues to replace fax and mail transactions for secure, interoperable electronic transport of personal health information,” Kibbe continued.

DirectTrust also boasts two new additions to its member network, including one international cybersecurity company called Dark Matter, and Anthem, Inc., located in the U.S.

As of present, DirectTrust now hosts 142 member organizations.

Kibbe says he is excited about the diversity both organizations will bring to DirectTrust.

“We’re very proud to welcome these companies into the DirectTrust community as both providers and users of Direct exchange services,” Kibbe explained. “They represent the diversity of our membership and show the extent to which Direct secure messaging is expanding both internationally and within the U.S. healthcare system.”

DirectTrust has been on an upward trajectory for some time. At the end of Q1 2016, the organization saw a boom in the number of providers and hospitals served by its HISPs, increasing by 46 percent compared to Q1 2015. The number of direct addresses had also increased to 1.2 million by Q1 2016.

Perhaps DirectTrust’s growth may be credited to some of its new initiatives, like the Partnership for Patients Program (P4PP) announced at the end of May. P4PP is aimed at improving patient healthcare and patient engagement through better exchange of data between patient and provider.

The program is set up to alleviate cost and technology barriers keeping patients from directly sending their health data to their providers. To do this, DirectTrust has created a system that works similarly to email that encrypts all exchanged data.

This program, like the others hosted by DirectTrust, is not simply an effort to boost health IT interoperability; it is also intended to help drive patient-centered healthcare and patient engagement.

"The need for patients and consumers to take charge of their health information, communicate with their providers about their health and be free to move their health information anywhere they choose has never been greater," Kibbe said in the press release.

"This, of course, means individuals must have access to their personal health information stored in their providers' EHRs and other health IT systems, and have that access electronically and digitally.”

Ultimately, DirectTrust is focused on making health data available to all involved parties in a secure and easy fashion. In the long run, this will help boost care coordination and communication between all members of a care team, providers and patients included.

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