CHIME launches new effort to make DirectTrust's data exchange framework universal in healthcare

Doctor typing on laptop
CHIME has put the full weight of its membership behind and effort to make the DirectTrust framework ubiquitous in healthcare.

The College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME) is putting all its chips behind DirectTrust to provide a common data exchange framework throughout the healthcare industry.

A new partnership between CHIME and DirectTrust promises to take on a major pain point in healthcare by making the Direct exchange “universally available” to every member of the healthcare ecosystem, from hospitals and medical practices to pharmacies and insurers.

The collaboration plans to leverage CHIME’s membership with DirectTrust’s framework to ensure secure data exchange is available at “every location in the healthcare system where a patient’s data and information might be needed,” the organizations said in a joint announcement on Wednesday.

“Our members strongly support the further development of a standards-based national platform to safely and securely exchange patient data,” said CHIME CEO and President Russell P. Branzell. “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.”

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The partnership would expand DirectTrusts current network, which includes over 100,000 healthcare organizations using more than 350 different EHRs. In an email to FierceHealthcare, DirectTrust CEO and President David C. Kibbe, M.D. said DirectTrust has a well-established infrastructure to take on the task of universal deployment. But he also acknowledged “tens of thousands” of healthcare organizations, as well as “some federal agencies involved in healthcare” still rely on email or fax, and may not be aware of the DirectTrust network.

“Getting us to a more universal Direct exchange availability will, therefore, require education, demonstrations of best practices and outreach,” Kibbe said. “Both CHIME and DirectTrust have significant resources for outreach, education, and social networking that can be brought to the successful fulfillment of the goals here. And we hope to have the support of other entities at the federal and state level who will contribute resources to this effort.”

RELATED: HIMSS, EHRA urge ONC to tap existing models for Trusted Exchange Framework

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is developing a Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, fresh of a stakeholder meeting in July which featured input from a variety of existing data exchange framework, including DirectTrust.

ONC is expected to release a draft of its Trusted Exchange Framework next year, but organizations like HIMSS and EHRA have already pushed the agency to used existing interoperability models and facilitate coordination between private sector trust frameworks rather than creating an overarching framework.

Kibbe said the ONC’s work won’t directly impact DirectTrust’s partnership with CHIME but that the federal effort is helping the industry get a better grasp on the value of trust frameworks. He also acknowledged that the partnership, and its lofty goal, are just one step towards improving interoperability.

“It will not solve all [healthcare’s] interoperability challenges,” he said. “But it will greatly improve the current situation to have a Direct electronic end-point everywhere a patient or consumer might present for medical care, so that providers and patients can have confidence that their information will follow them wherever they go without relying on fax, paper, and so on.”