Use of DirectTrust secure electronic messaging between providers, patients and other healthcare consumers via the Direct Project protocols for secure communications, grew significantly last year, underscoring increasing national interest and activity in exchanging health information during the care delivery process.

The service uses DirectTrust-accredited health information service providers (HISPs) that commit to complying with certain protocols for secure messaging.

More than 98 million Direct message transactions were conducted during 2016, according to the vendor; more than 33.5 million messages were sent in the last three months of 2016 alone. The service reports a total of 165 million transactions since it was launched in 2013.

The number of healthcare organizations using Direct message transactions increased to 71,000 last year, compared with 52,000 in 2015. A total of 41 HISPs now work with DirectTrust, and more than 350 certified electronic health records support the messaging service.

David Kibbe, MD
David Kibbe, MD

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In addition to the certified EHRs, vendors often have multiple other products that support Direct—about 1500 other products are certified for the service.

“I didn’t expect growth to be this rapid,” says David Kibbe, MD, president and CEO at DirectTrust. “That means we have to work harder so it stays reliable.”

Primary use cases for DirectTrust messaging continue to include support of care coordination and clinical messaging for referrals and alerts, according to Kibbe. “But we’re also starting to see Direct messaging for administrative and research data communications,” he adds.

DirectTrust soon will release a white paper, primarily done by physicians and nurses using the service, with recommendations to EHR vendors and users on how to improve their products by highlighting features that best support Direct messaging.

Also, the service soon will support the ability to copy messages to other parties beyond those involved in the exchange of information, and it also will support message notification, such as informing a user that a message was successfully received or the message wasn’t delivered, Kibbe says.

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