Direct Secure Messaging in Dentistry

andyThis week, I spoke with Andy Nieto, DataMotion’s health IT strategist, on his views on the use of Direct Secure Messaging (Direct) within the dental field. Andy explained what Direct means for dental practitioners, why it’s important, and what he sees as the future for Direct in the dental field.

In a nutshell, what is Direct?

Direct is a standards based messaging platform that provides communication across all systems while remaining truly compliant with HIPAA and HITECH regulations. Direct is new and having been guided by centers from Medicare and Medicaid, it found its first toehold in clinical medicine but because of its standards based nature it makes sense in dentistry because it makes sense to move across multiple separate platforms.

What makes Direct better than encrypted email?

Encrypted email is proprietary to the encrypted email vendor, in other words- it is not a standard across all vendors. So for each vendor, there is a unique user interface. Direct is standard faced and therefore useful across all platforms regardless of vendor.

Why is it important for dental providers to protect their patients’ data?

Dentists, just like all other healthcare professionals, are bound by the same regulatory standards of privacy and security of PHI (protected health information).

What is the need for Direct in the dental field?

The Dental field is made up of specialists to care for all facets of dentistry- general dentistry, orthodontia, and periodontists all serve a role for a patient. Direct being standards based provides a universal communication standard for all members of the dental care team.

What do you see happening with Direct for dental practitioners over the next year?

Three things- I see the ADA standards committee embracing Direct as the standard for dental communication. Second, I see dental software adopting and integrating Direct into their application. Third, I see the dental industry leveraging this technology platform more effectively than their clinical counterparts.

Your last point is interesting, what do you say that?

Dentists historically have been more technology savvy and willing to embrace advancements in technology. Dentists also have an innate sense of efficiency, and Direct is a more efficient means of communication.

What is your advice to dental practices with regard to Direct at this point in time?

My advice to dental practices at this time is 1- look for opportunities to connect electronically with your referral partners and peers. Second- continue to encourage this interoperability relationship using Direct.


Direct Secure Messaging is clearly an important service to dental service providers, both to increase interoperability and maintain compliance with HIPAA and HITECH regulations. To learn more about Direct for dental practitioners and its place in your organization’s measures to ensure compliance, consult with one of DataMotion’s experts today or if you’re attending the ADA Conference in San Antonio, TX this year, visit us at Booth #2523.

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