DirectTrust calls on EHR vendors to improve clinical messaging

Interoperability group recommends that IT developers standardize features to manage clinical messages and their attachments.
By Mike Miliard
11:26 AM
DirectTrust EHR clinical messaging

DirectTrust is calling on the hundreds of electronic health record and health IT vendors whose products have Direct messaging capabilities to improve the usability of their software.

Listing more than 50 suggestions, the new report, "Feature and Function Recommendations to the HIT Industry to Optimize Clinician Usability of Direct Interoperability to Enhance Patient Care" – which is open for public comment until March 30 – was created by a DirectTrust workgroup comprising physicians and nurses with experience using Direct to share patient data and coordinate care.

It offers recommendations for improving inbound and outbound Direct messages into three categories: required/urgently needed, highly desired and advanced/future development.

Among those in the most urgent category: EHR software that can send Direct messages in real time, rather than in batch mode; the ability to attach multiple, common structured and unstructured file formats (PDFs, Word docs, CCDA files) to any message and the ability to automate patient matching of incoming messages for patients that already exist in the recipient EHR.

"We're calling for all these vendors to make available more consistent and standardized software features to manage Direct clinical messages and their attachments," said Steven Lane, MD, clinical informatics director at Sutter Health and co-chair of the DirectTrust's clinicians steering workgroup. "The existing variability in usability among different vendors' products is unacceptably high and poses a barrier to Direct interoperability, and thus to the adoption of secure messaging by clinicians to support common care coordination workflows."

Holly Miller, MD, chief medical officer at MedAllies and co-chair of the workgroup added that Direct can be used to deliver critical clinical information to physicians inside their own EHR. 

"Direct interoperability has provided basic connectivity," Miller said. "Now the health IT community needs to enhance usability and address deficiencies and inconsistencies of messaging content and functionality."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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