DirectTrust starts push for an instant messaging standard

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DirectTrust, an accreditation body for health data exchange among known and trusted entities, will develop Trusted Instant Messaging+, also known as TIM+, a new standard to enable real-time secure transmissions.

“While unsecured messaging may occur via text message, iMessage, products like Slack and others, there currently is no standard for secure instant messaging in healthcare, especially between disparate systems,” says Scott Stuewe, President and CEO at DirectTrust. “Furthermore, use of unsecured messaging poses great risk that HIPAA and other privacy regulations may be violated.”

The goal of the TIM+standard is to develop a process for caregivers and patients to communicate with each other by advancing electronic sharing of protected health information to improve care transitions, care efficiency and coordination, patient satisfaction and reduced healthcare costs.

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For now, instant messaging via AOL, LinkedIn, Slack and other messaging platforms are fine for quick communications. In the healthcare environment, however, email has a significant presence, yet a provider sending an email to another provider or associate won’t know when they got the message and whether they read it.

That said, email and instant messaging can work together, Stuewe explains. “We have experience securing email. Now, we need to invite industry to discuss a standard that can be agreed on so facilities can communicate among themselves on a common message standard. It could be LinkedIn or Facebook or another platform.”

The overall goal for a standard messaging system, however, should be to embed an agreed standard in electronic health record systems so different messaging systems can communicate, Stuewe asserts.

“Right now, 97 percent of doctors in the U.S. routinely send patient data without a secure application—we need to do something to get past pages and faxes.”

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