DirectTrust, CHIME team up to tout standard HIE

The College of Health Information Management Executives has teamed up with DirectTrust, a non-profit trade alliance, to promote universal deployment of the DirectTrust network among providers and payers.

“Our members strongly support the further development of a standards-based national platform to safely and securely exchange patient data,” says Russell Branzell, president and CEO at CHIME, a professional association representing CIOs and other healthcare IT executives.

“DirectTrust offers an infrastructure that goes hand-in-hand with our goals to assist and lead where needed to improve patient care, engage patients in their health and reduce patient safety incidents,” he adds.

The initiative was spawned two months ago, when CHIME approached DirectTrust and talks began, with the organizations agreeing that it was time to expand and improve Direct secure messaging with the intent of it becoming the default national health exchange to improve communications.

Both CHIME and DirectTrust emphasize that the initiative does not intend to supplant other efforts to achieve and improve information exchange between healthcare organizations. Rather, they hope to add a new national option for exchange, says David Kibbe, MD, CEO at DirectTrust.

“That does not mean we were excluding other HIE efforts, but that they could depend on DirectTrust to be there,” Kibbe says. For example, CHIME and DirectTrust also could collaborate on other pressing information exchange issues, such as finding a way to help CIOs simplify their interfaces.

The beauty of universal deployment of DirectTrust is that the service already extends into 100,000 organizations, Kibbe adds. “We don’t have to build a new infrastructure at all. This is an awareness and education program.”

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That said, he acknowledges that they don’t yet have a formal plan, but DirectTrust regularly conducts web seminars, and CHIME has rich educational resources. The hope is to attract provider and payer organizations as well as departments within those organizations. Kibbe says DirectTrust and CHIME are open to bringing in more collaborating groups over time as the initiative matures.

“One of my goals is to find ways in which standards can work together and be easy to use,” he adds. Standards for Voice over Internet Protocols and cell phones, for instance, would give providers a richer user experience.

Chuck Christian, vice president of technology and engagement at the Indiana Health Information Exchange, cautions that the organization is not promoting universal deployment of DirectTrust as a preferred approach to information exchange.

“No methodology will do everything; we’re just now learning how to use the technologies at our fingertips so we need to learn how to complement each other,” he says.

Depending on the healthcare market and vendor competition, Christian sees DirectTrust as a viable option. “If a doctor in rural Montana has to send information to someone in Billings and if the only transport is to have DirectTrust, that’s what they will want to use.”

While CHIME and DirectTrust figure out how to support each other, vendors elsewhere should not worry about being eclipsed, Christian advises, as no vendors are able to handle all the possible use cases for improved interoperability. Every methodology will support learning how to advance HIE and make a difference in how information is moved along efficiently and securely.

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