A new survey finds that 70 percent of the public and 65 percent of doctors agree with the concept of a “blue button” to enable individuals to download their own medical information online with just one click, according to Carol Diamond, M.D. Managing Director at the non-profit New York based Markle Foundation.
The Markle Foundation survey offers a first ever comparison of public and physician views on key issues surrounding HIT, including their views on the new federal incentives to stimulate the use of health IT. The “Markle Survey on Health in a Networked Life 2010” is the first of its kind to compare public and doctor priorities for health IT.
Despite the strong support for downloading personal health information, 83 percent of the public reports that they never ask for their information in electronic format. The vast majority of doctors said requests from patients for information in electronic format are received either rarely (24 percent) or never (67 percent).
In the federal sector, Medicare and the VA are preparing this fall for beneficiaries and veterans to have a blue button to download their claims or medical information from the MyMedicare.gov and My HealtheVet web sites.
The new federal rules require healthcare providers and hospitals to give patients electronic copies of their lists of medication, after visit summaries, lab results, and other pertinent information in order to qualify for an estimated $27 billion in federal subsidies for using health IT. The program, now being rolled out as required by the Recovery Act, is designed to make the sharing of patient information more efficient.
Sixty two percent of the public and 49 percent of the doctors surveyed said that if the billions in federal incentives are to be well spent, it’s important to set the requirements needed for participating doctors and hospitals to be able to supply patients with electronic copies of their personal health information.
Only 8 percent of the public and 21 percent of the doctors felt that providing electronic copies to patients was not an important requirement for the program. Overwhelming majorities of the public and doctors also want to be sure that the money comes with privacy and security safeguards.
In response to the need for privacy, the Markle Connecting for Health collaborators recently published a set of privacy practices for the blue button download capability. Support for the privacy practices is supported by 50 organizations representing technology companies, insurers, and provider groups, along with consumer and privacy advocates. These practices are part of the Markle Common Framework for Networked Personal Health Information which recommends policy and technology safeguards to encourage individual access to information and privacy.
The Markle survey was conducted in August 2010 by Knowledge Networks (KN). The general population survey of 1,582 adults age 18 and older was conducted using KN’s KnowledgePanel®, a probability-based panel of 50,000 individuals designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The survey of 779 physicians was conducted using KN’s Physicians Consulting Network and invitation only list of more than 45,000 practicing physicians.
Go to www.markle.org/downloadable_assets/20101007_bluebutton_summary.pdf to download the survey.