DirectTrust Surpasses ONC’s Secure HIE Specs, Earns Renewal
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 8, 2014 – DirectTrust, a non-profit trade alliance that advances secure, health information exchange via the Direct Protocol, announced today that its Cooperative Agreement with the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health IT has been renewed for a second full year. The renewal came after DirectTrust not only met, but exceeded the goals of the ONC’s Exemplar HIE Governance Program.
“This is a time when identity theft and privacy concerns are prevalent, so securing patients’ personal health information in Direct messages – and trusting the identity between senders – is a must,” DirectTrust President and CEO David C. Kibbe, MD, said. “In a remarkably short period of time, our members have created a national network for secure and trusted health data exchange over the Internet. EHR users in hospitals, medical practices, and other health care facilities, as well as their patients, will all benefit from the ability to move data securely across organizational and IT boundaries via Direct. The work has been done on time, and on target.”
DirectTrust sets policies and standards for secure health information exchange and operates a voluntary, accreditation program for Health Information Services Providers (HISPs) in partnership with the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC). Accredited HISPs provide trusted, low-cost message exchanges from within EHRs, web portals, and other applications for the purposes of health care coordination and patient engagement.
To qualify for renewal, DirectTrust had to meet a number of deadlines and milestones for growth of its trust community. One of those involved their EHNAC-DirectTrust program. Accredited HISPs share digital certificates with one another, making it transparent and efficient for Direct relying parties to know who to trust, without having to engage in one-off contracts or single-use connections.
In all to date, DirectTrust has enrolled 49 organizations – including leading EHR companies, connectivity vendors, and state HIEs – in more than 80 accreditation and audit programs encompassing privacy, security, and trust-in-identity controls. That far exceeded the goal of 50 programs set for the first year of the Cooperative Agreement.
“Over the past year, DirectTrust worked hard to promote good governance practices and enable the exchange of health information,” said Kory Mertz, the Challenge Grant Director at the ONC. “We expect that in the second year of the contract, DirectTrust will continue this success and help to enable HISP-to-HISP interoperability among their participants.”
According to John Blair, MD, Chair of the DirectTrust Board of Directors and CEO of MedAllies, an accredited HISP, “The country has placed a high priority on digitizing providers throughout the health care industry. For the last several years, significant money and effort has gone into moving providers from paper to EHRs. Direct exchange is our greatest hope to create interoperability between these disparate EHR systems for transitions of care and care coordination. The partnership between DirectTrust and ONC has been a very productive collaboration between the private sector and government, something we don’t see every day.”
Details on the benefits of HIPAA-compliant messaging and EHNAC-DirectTrust accreditation can be found at www.DirectTrust.org.
DirectTrust is a nonprofit, competitively neutral, self-regulatory entity created by and for participants in the Direct community – including health information service providers (HISPs), certificate authorities, registration authorities, doctors, patients, and vendors. It supports both provider-to-provider, as well as patient-to-provider Direct exchange. The goal of DirectTrust is to develop, promote and, as necessary, help enforce the rules and best practices needed to maintain security and trust within the Direct network, consistent with the HITECH Act and the governance rules for the NwHIN established by the ONC. DirectTrust is committed to fostering widespread public confidence in the Direct exchange of health information. To learn more, please visit www.DirectTrust.org.
About the ONC Exemplar HIE Governance Program
The Exemplar Health Information Exchange Governance Program funds cooperative agreements that advance the efforts of existing governance entities that benefit consumers and healthcare providers by allowing health information to flow securely between unaffiliated healthcare organizations. Ultimately, this aligns interoperability requirements and business practices with national priorities; overcomes interoperability challenges; reduces implementation costs; and assures the privacy and security of health information exchange.