Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Accessing Info with a Click

According to a policy paper released by the Markle Foundation, the simple but rarely offered ability for people to download their health records should be a priority in the nationwide push to upgrade health information technology.

Representing a wide array of providers, consumers, technology companies, insurers, and privacy advocates, 46 organizations are supporting a specific set of privacy and security practices for the “blue button.” The group envisions the blue button as a common offering among secure websites for patients and beneficiaries by medical practices, hospitals, insurers, pharmacies, laboratories, and information services.

“By clicking the blue button, you could get your own health information electronically—like summaries of doctor visits, medications, and test results. Being able to have your own electronic copies and share them as you need to with your doctors is a first step in truly enabling people to engage in their healthcare”, said Carol Diamond, MD, MPH, Managing Director of the Markle Foundation.

Medicare and the Veterans Administration are planning to implement a blue button this fall that will for the first time, allow beneficiaries to electronically download their claims or medical information in a common form from the “My Medicare.gov” and “My HealtheVet” secure websites.

The Markle collaboration’s recommendations are timely because ARRA requires that individuals need to be able to receive electronic copies of their records from their providers’ electronic health record systems. In addition, new federal economic stimulus rules require healthcare providers and hospitals to deliver electronic copies of items such as lists of medications, after-visit summaries, and lab results if they choose to participate in federal subsidies for using HIT.

The Markle policy recommendations details privacy policies and practices when implementing download capabilities with security safeguards included. The proposed privacy policies build on the Markle Common Framework for Networked Personal Health Information, a set of recommended practices for individual access to information and privacy. The framework first released in 2006 is widely supported by a range of technology companies, insurers, provider groups, consumer, and privacy advocates.

Go to http://www.markle.org/downloadable_assets/20100831_dicapability_pb.pdf to download the brief.