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Survey: HIOs Split in Cost-Benefit Analysis of Direct

June 23, 2015
by Gabriel Perna
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Health Information Organizations (HIOs) using Direct Messaging technologies are split down the middle as to whether the benefits of the technology outweigh the costs.

This was one of the findings of a survey from the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Interoperability and HIE Committee’s on Direct Messaging. The HIMSS Interoperability and HIE Committee surveyed 75 HIOs across 27 states on how they are using Direct. Fifty-one percent agreed the cost of using Direct was worth the benefit of information exchange. A larger percentage of HIOs, 67 percent, openly supported Direct as a method in exchanging data.

HIMSS posted the results on a blog. Most of the respondents were from Health Internet Service Providers (HISPs).

Most HIOs are using Direct for care coordination. Transitions of care were the top use of Direct, according to the survey’s findings. After that it was ADT notifications, patient communication, secure email for other purposes, and consult requests between physicians. The top benefits were improved speed of info access, reduced paper handing, and more accurate and complete patient information. The cost was the biggest challenge, according to HIOs.

Sixty percent of respondents use hosted webmail accounts to utilize Direct and 76 percent reported access to a provider directory. Only 28 percent report their EHR offers an integrated directory, whereas 28 percent report they pull in the directory via web services and 17 percent perform a manual download.

David C. Kibbe, M.D., CEO of DirectTrust, a nonprofit support group made up of HISPs and other participants in the Direct community, was pleased with the results of the survey. “The implications of the results are clear: We've reached the tipping point. Direct exchange—which is easy, secure and gets the job done—is now a permanent technology in the landscape for health information exchange, gaining ground over fax and efax, as well as replacing one-off proprietary connectivity solutions for linking providers that are so expensive and complex,” he said in a statement.

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