Electronic Healthcare Records , Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE)

Health Information Exchange: The Missing Links

DirectTrust's New CEO, Scott Stuewe, Pinpoints Action Items
Health Information Exchange: The Missing Links
Scott Stuewe, new CEO and president of DirectTrust

Making bigger advances in implementing nationwide health information exchange will require a multipronged effort, including getting patients more involved and using a variety of technical approaches, says Scott Stuewe, the new president and CEO of DirectTrust.

"That's really where the big new change can take place - if we can weld the consumer organizations onto FHIR and have that connected to a trust framework like DirectTrust - that's where the rubber is going to hit the road in the next era," Stuewe says in an interview with Information Security Media Group.

FHIR - or the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources - is a draft standard from Health Level Seven that describes data formats and elements and includes an application programming interface for exchanging electronic health record information.

DirectTrust, in contrast, maintains the policies, standards and practices of the Direct protocol for point-to-point encrypted messaging for healthcare, including provider-to-provider and provider-to-consumer.

Moving forward, however, DirectTrust could play an important role in providing a trust framework to advance other types of secure health data exchange, especially for transactions involving consumers, says Stuewe, who became president and CEO at DirectTrust on Sept. 1, succeeding David Kibbe, M.D.

"As you try and imagine a future in which the patient plays a role in how their data is exchanged, there's a lot of promise in the notion that the patient might be the hub of data exchange," he says.

Expanded Uses

But expanding health data exchange is "going to require that patients really start engaging - and in order to get patients to engage, the biggest impact could be applications ... that are very interesting and usable to patients," he says.

"So I see the combination of the consumer companies and the APIs being the most promising and exciting aspect of all this. If you put those two things together, it makes it possible to imagine an application where a consumer can manage not just the care aspect of their health, but also the payment aspects of their health," he says.

In the interview (see audio link below photo), Stuewe also discusses:

  • Cybersecurity and privacy hurdles to the advancement of health data exchange;
  • How to get patients more involved in health data exchange;
  • Challenges involving inappropriate health information blocking;
  • Promising emerging technologies, including blockchain, that could help to advance secure health data exchange.

Stuewe is a 25-year veteran of the healthcare information technology industry. Before becoming the president and CEO of DirectTrust, Stuewe was director of strategy and interoperability at DataFile Technologies, a provider of health information management software and services. Previously, Stuewe spent 24 years at Cerner Corp., most recently as director of national interoperability strategy. In this role, Stuewe led Cerner's initiatives on national interoperability by driving participation in the CommonWell Health Alliance.

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