Direct Messaging Benefits Outweigh Costs, Survey Finds

June 23, 2015 in News

About 66% of health information organizations use Direct messaging as their primary method for exchanging data, according a new survey released by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, Health Data Management reports.

The survey, conducted by the HIMSS Interoperability and HIE committees, polled 75 health information exchanges in 27 states. Of the respondents:

  • 83% were part of a health information service provider; and
  • 67% were part of a scalable trust network.

Survey Findings

According to the survey, the top instances in which respondents used Direct messaging were:

  • Transitions of care;
  • Admission, discharge or transfer notifications;
  • Patient communications;
  • Secure email for other purposes; and
  • Consult requests among physicians.

Meanwhile, the survey found that the top benefits of Direct messaging included:

  • Faster access to information;
  • Reduced paper handling; and
  • More accurate and comprehensive patient information.

However, respondents cited several barriers to implementing Direct messaging tools, such as:

  • Changing workflows;
  • Other physicians not being ready to interface; and
  • High costs.

Still, 51% of health information organizations said the cost of Direct messaging technology was worth the benefits (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 6/23).


In a blog post about the survey, HIMSS Director of Informatics Mari Greenberger and Sean Kennedy, director of health information exchange at the Mass eHealth Institute, wrote, “From our perspective, we see significant progress and optimism in several areas, signaling that HIE is maturing in the marketplace and beginning to deliver the intended value to their providers and communities” (HIMSS blog, 6/22).

Meanwhile, DirectTrust President and CEO David Kibbe in a statement said the survey¬† “provides strong proof that standards-based interoperable health information exchange is catching on, finally.” He added, “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 e-fax, as well as replacing one-off proprietary connectivity solutions for linking providers that are so expensive and complex” (DirectTrust release, 6/23).

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