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DirectTrust Launches Consensus Body for SDOH Data Exchange Interoperability

DirectTrust has announced the launch of a consensus body to advance social determinants of health (SDOH) data exchange interoperability.

DirectTrust has announced the launch of the Information Exchange for Human Services (IX4HS) Consensus Body to support social determinants of health (SDOH) data exchange interoperability.

The consensus body will evaluate the Direct Standard and other existing standards for SDOH data exchange between healthcare settings and human service organizations, creating new standards as needed.

Healthcare organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of SDOH data exchange to support care for populations served by human services providers such as state Medicaid programs, federally qualified health centers, and accountable care organizations.

Greater interoperability between healthcare organizations and human services providers is expected to streamline referrals, information exchange and requests, and care coordination, DirectTrust officials said.

“Our goal in forming the IX4HS Consensus Body is to create a specification for the use of particular standards to support specific use cases and purposes to enable healthcare organizations interacting with human services providers to refer, follow, coordinate, and measure the outcomes of their ‘social determinants of health’ initiatives,” Scott Stuewe, DirectTrust president and CEO, said in a public statement.

“Communications with and between human services providers should be available in existing clinical systems’ EHRs using interoperable standards that ensure security, protect privacy, enhance usability, and are reliable, scalable, and affordable. And perhaps most importantly, they should be acceptable to human services providers with a widely varying level of systems and users’ competencies,” Stuewe said.

He noted that Direct Secure Messaging, built on the Direct Standard, is widely deployed for secure health data exchange across the healthcare and human services industry. 

“It is already in use by many players in human services for secure communication, although some workflows have yet to be profiled,” Stuewe explained. “This consensus body will identify the excellent work of other existing standards bodies and initiatives to further profile them with Direct as a transport mechanism,” Stuewe concluded.

The non-profit industry alliance seeks consensus body members from the healthcare, government, health plan, information technology, and interoperability spheres. 

Interested parties are qualified to participate in DirectTrust consensus bodies upon application and acceptance by the DirectTrust Standards Board.

In May, DirectTrust announced that its health IT had facilitated over 170 million direct secure messages within its network during the first quarter of 2021, a 21 percent increase compared to the same time in 2020.

Since 2014, DirectTrust has facilitated nearly 2.3 billion total direct exchange transactions.

“We’re delighted to see the continued steady growth in direct secure messaging following a hit to use during the early days of the pandemic,” Stuewe said in a statement at the time of the announcement.

“Direct continues to be a reliable means for ensuring safe and secure transport of health information, and its consistent use—now averaging 57+ million per month—confirms our position that interoperability of electronic health information is here and will continue to gain traction as a cost-effective means of improving the coordination of patient care,” Stuewe continued.

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