Getty Images

Direct Secure Messaging Now Approved Health Data Exchange Standard

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the foundation of direct secure messaging as a national standard for health data exchange.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has approved the Direct Standard, which lays the foundation for direct secure messaging, as a national standard for health data exchange.

The Direct Standard, developed by non-profit healthcare industry alliance DirectTrust, is a widely adopted procedure that allows individuals to digitally send authenticated, encrypted health data to trusted recipients.

“We’re thrilled ANSI has recognized the Direct Standard as a national standard,” Scott Stuewe, DirectTrust President and CEO, said in a public statement. 

“ANSI’s approval clearly demonstrates that the Direct Standard meets their highest level of standards, and that the healthcare industry and participants in direct secure messaging can have total confidence in Direct as a secure method of transmitting electronic health information,” he continued.

When it comes to patient data exchange, provider communication is crucial. Health information exchanges and health systems leverage direct secure messaging to enhance provider-to-provider communication.

The Direct Standard builds on existing standards and deploys internet-scale infrastructure to ensure message security and structure, as well as public key infrastructure (PKI). The standard adds requirements for public key discovery, quality-of-service notifications, and relationship building among direct secure messaging partners.

"The Direct Standard Consensus Body's group of PKI and health IT experts took on the careful work of tuning this important specification, shoring up terminology and further enhancing security and privacy," noted Luis Maas, MD, PhD, CTO of EMR Direct and chair of the Direct Standard Consensus Body.

"With these updates, this essential and widely used standard will continue to enable secure and interoperable transport of health information and ready access to health data by providers and patients alike well into the future,” Maas continued.

ANSI approved the new standard ANSI/DS 2019-01-V01-2021, The Direct Standard on May 13, 2021. ANSI published the announcement in ANSI Standards Action on May 21, 2021.

In May, DirectTrust announced that its health IT has 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.

Dig Deeper on Interoperability in healthcare

Cloud Computing
Mobile Computing