Using Direct Messaging for Referrals

As we begin 2018, we see accelerating demand for Direct Messaging addresses and services as a replacement for fax, print-outs and snail mail. This demand comes through our 70+ CEHRT partners – from their provider and care facility subscriber base, as well as direct (small ‘d’) inquiries from providers, care facilities and ancillary providers. And the channel is becoming activated behind enabling this use case as well.

As practical guidance for both ‘why and how’ to use Direct Messaging for referrals – we provide the following information on using ‘DSM’, or Direct Secure Messaging – specifically DataMotion Direct(!) for referrals. We are posting it on the blog since it has value for anyone considering a Direct Messaging subscription – or encouraging their referral partners to do likewise. Please feel free to share!  


Dear Referral Partner:

We’re introducing a better way to exchange referrals, care summaries, and similar patient data with your office by implementing Direct Secure Messaging (DSM).

Going forward, we prefer to use this method to share patient referral data instead of fax, courier, post, etc. for the following reasons:

  • CMS is advocating DSM as its preferred method for electronically sharing patient data. The DSM method is considered to be superior to fax, courier, post and other traditional methods of clinical data exchange.
  • DSM is highly efficient and convenient because it allows us to send and receive referrals directly from/to the patient record in our EHR.
  • The referral we send you via DSM will automatically update the patient record in your EHR without the inconvenience of retrieving the information from a third-party system and/or keying-in data from a hard-copy document

To begin exchanging referrals via DSM, we need to know your Direct Secure Messaging Address. The Address we’re seeking, and which we’d like you to share with us, looks like an email address with a unique format along these lines: smithmd@direct.yourpractice.com.

Many providers already have Direct Secure Messaging Addresses through their EHR vendor but don’t realize it. Here are a few options for determining your Direct Address associated with your EHR:

  • Enter the following search phrase into your EHR’s search field or knowledge base: “Direct Address” or “Direct Secure Messaging.” The search should return guidance on where to locate your Direct Address or how to request it through your EHR. EHRs that carry ONC’s Certification for 2014 and/or 2015 should be equipped with Direct Secure Messaging and should make a Direct Address available to you.
  • Contact your EHR customer support representative and request a Direct Secure Messaging Address. Most customer support reps should be knowledgeable about Direct Secure Messaging. If they are not, suggest a conversation with the EHR’s coordinator of CMS attestation programs, e.g.: Meaningful use / MACRA-MIPs. Direct Secure Messaging is a required measure for qualifying for payment incentive programs and as such individuals involved in these programs will be familiar with DSM.

If you don’t have an EHR or if your EHR does not support Direct Secure Messaging, you can obtain a Direct Address through alternative channels:

  • One option is to contact your local health information exchange or Regional Extension Center (REC). Many of these entities provision Direct Addresses or can guide you to an authorized Direct Address issuer.
  • Another option is to contact an accredited health information service provider (HISP). Accredited HISPs are the exclusive issuers of Direct Addresses for use on the DirectTrust health information exchange network. We recommend DataMotion but you can select any accredited HISP listed on the DirectTrust website.

We believe that DSM is an important method of referral exchange that is gaining widespread adoption as fax and similar clinical data delivery processes become outmoded. We encourage you to embrace this new way of sharing clinical data and collaborating toward better outcomes for our patients.

Thank you for your cooperation!

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