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DirectTrust gets accreditation to develop health data exchange standards

DirectTrust, a nonprofit association of health IT and healthcare organizations, has taken a step forward in developing health data exchange standards.

The nonprofit announced Tuesday that it has been accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop health data exchange standards to increase data sharing using Direct exchange and trust frameworks.

DirectTrust has created a trust framework, which extends data exchange to more than 106,000 healthcare organizations and supports provider-to-provider information exchange, as well as data exchange between patients and providers.

More than 300 electronic health record and personal health record vendors and 50 health information exchanges (HIEs) participate in the DirectTrust network, which aims to support interoperable health information exchange through its Direct message protocols. Direct is similar to email, except the Health Internet Service Provider (HISP) handles email exchanges rather than an email provider such as Google or Yahoo.

DirectTrust began its application last year for ANSI accreditation and was approved in March. ANSI coordinates and facilitates the development of standards used worldwide by the healthcare industry, government agencies and consumers.

The Direct messaging exchange is a set of specifications and protocols known as the Direct standard, which was developed by a public-private collaboration called the Direct Project that was sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) starting in 2010.

Don Rucker, national coordinator for health information technology, said in a news release that ONC initiated the Direct Project as a new option for exchanging electronic health information. The Direct Project grew from stakeholder meetings and was structured as a consensus-based standards development organization. The Direct Project had participation and the sanction of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and ONC, but no affiliation with an accrediting authority.

“DirectTrust’s accreditation by ANSI is an important step forward for this decade-long public-private effort to advance interoperability nationwide,” Rucker said in the release.

DirectTrust has also issued a call for participation for the Direct Standard Consensus Body, a group of healthcare industry stakeholders to help develop DirectTrust standards.

Earlier this month, the VA teamed up with DirectTrust to improve interoperability with community hospitals through DirectTrust’s health data exchange services. The VA joined the DirectTrust Accredited Trust Anchor Bundle, which gives VA healthcare providers access to 1.8 million endpoints in DirectTrust’s national network.

DirectTrust will also be hosting its first conference in June. The DirectTrust Summit will offer panels focused on FHIR and the future of trust in healthcare as well as the role of identity in healthcare exchange.

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