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DirectTrust Announces 31% Increase in 2021 Direct Secure Messages

The number of consumers leveraging DirectTrust direct secure messages increased nearly 16 percent from 2020 to 2021.

Healthcare industry alliance DirectTrust supported more than 945 million direct secure messages during 2021, representing a 31 percent increase over the total number of transactions in 2020.

Since DirectTrust began tracking transactions in 2014, the organization has facilitated nearly 2.9 billion direct secure messages, an average of more than 79 million transactions per month.

In the fourth quarter of 2021, the number of consumers using direct secure messaging increased nearly 16 percent compared to the same period a year ago. The number of trusted direct addresses sharing protected health information (PHI) also grew 12 percent year-over-year.

"In 2021, we saw a return to strong growth in message volume and in the number of organizations with access to direct secure messaging, after seeing a dip related to the pandemic in 2020," Scott Stuewe, president and CEO of DirectTrust, said in a press release. "Our volume rebounded to over 100 million more transactions than we saw in 2019, making 2021 our best year yet."

Stuewe noted that the growth in direct secure messaging appears to be fueled by new use cases, such as admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) event notifications. He also explained that the DirectTrust community is working on improving the quality of its directory.  

"The cleanup associated with this effort, along with changes in strategy where some organizations are using Direct addresses based on departments or teams rather than individuals, may have resulted in a reduction in the total number of addresses in use," Stuewe said. "Overall, we are excited that as we enter our tenth anniversary year that our network continues to thrive."

DirectTrust also announced its third group of Interoperability Heroes. The organization takes Interoperability Hero nominations based on significant interoperability contributions in various categories, including fax alternatives, collaboration with others, identity-proofing, organizational efficiencies, and using Direct with other standards such as FHIR.

The industry alliance recognized the following stakeholders as Interoperability Heroes for the fourth quarter of 2021:

  • Arkansas SHARE (Anne Santifer and Justin Villines)
  • David K. Butler, MD – The Chartis Group
  • Kathleen Dahl, RN and Cynthia Olson, RN – Minneapolis VA Medical Center
  • Charles Jaffe, MD, PhD – HL7
  • Katherine Lusk – THSA
  • OpenNotes (Catherine DesRoches, DrPH)
  • Sheryl Turney – Anthem
  • Amy Shellhart – WellSky
  • Jennifer Smith – CommonWell Health Alliance
  • Andrei Zudin, PhD – Health Gorilla

"The Interoperability Hero Initiative has highlighted that regardless of organizational affiliation or specific standards deployed, many in health IT are laser-focused on advancing interoperability," said Kathryn Ayers Wickenhauser, DirectTrust director of communications.

"We're eager to celebrate and shine a light on these Interop Heroes, and hope the stories shared not only indicate what is possible with interoperability, but also inspire action to follow suit," she added.

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