Direct Messaging DOs and DON’Ts

New to Direct messaging? Here are some recommendations on what to do – and what not to do – with a Direct messaging address.

Direct messaging is a secure way to send protected health information electronically from provider to provider. Mainly due to Meaningful Use, Direct messaging usage is on a sharp rise. In fact, during a 13-month period from June 2013 to July 2014, the number of Direct addresses rose from 8,724 to 428,105, according to DirectTrust, an independent industry group that focuses on Direct messaging.

In Colorado, there are a few different ways you can get a Direct messaging address. Two main ways are through CORHIO (free for participants) or through your electronic health record company (ideal if you want to use Direct to meet Meaningful Use). CORHIO has so far set up more than 1,000 Direct addresses for Colorado providers. Regardless of how you obtain your Direct messaging address, here are some recommendations for using it to improve patient care.

Best Practices to Make the Most of Direct Messaging

DO use Direct messaging to send patient information, such as lab results and physician notes, to another provider to better inform a transition of care.

DO reach out to the providers in your referral network to ask if they have a Direct messaging address so you can start communicating with them via Direct. Consider putting your Direct address on your business cards, letterhead, website or other communications that you can share with referral partners.

DO give your organization’s Direct messaging address to your partner hospitals (if they have a Direct messaging account) so they can send you discharge information on your patients.

DO check your Direct messaging in-box regularly – we recommend you do it at least once a day. When you have a Direct account, it signals to other providers that your practice is willing to accept patient information in this manner.

DO be aware that HIPAA rules apply to your Direct messaging account. Therefore, logins to a Direct message account cannot be shared among multiple people or staff. Only Direct messaging applications that provide unique logins for each staff member may be used to access a single Direct messaging account.

What You Shouldn’t Do With Your Direct Messaging Address

DON’T use your Direct messaging address as if it’s a regular email address. For example, do not give your Direct address to a patient or non-provider and tell them to “email” you information to it. The message will not go through and the sender may not receive a ‘failure to deliver’ notification, so they will assume you got the message. Both the sender and receiver of a Direct message must have an authenticated Direct messaging account for messages to successfully transmit. Similarly, do not use your Direct address to sign up for e-newsletters or when making purchases online.

DON’T assume a recipient got a Direct message you sent. Check to make sure you got an auto response that your message was delivered. Direct messaging is a completely new communications platform and the technology is in its infancy, thus there have been cases where providers using two different HISPs have had difficulty messaging one another. This issue should improve over time.

DON’T share your Direct messaging log-in information with others.

DON’T try to meet the Summary of Care Meaningful Use objective with CORHIO’s WebDirect tool – it is not a 2014 Certified EHR product. If you are interested in attesting to Meaningful Use, you should contact your EHR vendor for more information.

This article was originally published on CORHIO Connect E-Newsletter and is republished here with permission.