ONC Consumer Empowerment Workgroup kicks off

By Anthony Brino
11:56 AM

The ONC Health IT Policy Committee’s Consumer Empowerment Workgroup convened for the first time Tuesday, discussing its goals for advising and recommending policy approaches to promoting participatory medicine.

Chaired by Christine Bechtel, vice president at the National Partnership for Women & Families, the workgroup was set up to probe issues such as patient data management, patient-designed care plans and emerging sources of patient data, as the ONC, HHS and the greater American healthcare industry tries to focus on consumer-patient engagement, as one necessary foundation for health reform.

At the workgroup’s meeting Tuesday, after introductions, Bechtel and others discussed the scope of their goals, some scenarios that may arise in meaningful use Stage 2, current relevant IT standards, and the agenda for the next meeting — identifying care plan sharing and IT issues to address for the ONC.

The growing demand for EHRs to support shared patient care plans, Bechtel said, has raised a host of issues, including: “What is a care plan? How should consumers and caregivers update these plans, share them, author or co-author, etc.?”

Meaningful use stage 2 includes a number of criteria and menu options for patient-provider information sharing, such as offering patients the ability to view online or download their health information within four business days of it being available to the eligible provider, offering patients clinical summaries and using EHRs to find patient-specific educational resources.

As digital doctor-patient communications like those have become more frequent — consumers may soon be expecting to be able to email doctors — standards for care plans and shared decision-making have developed too, such as the C-CDA Longitudinal Care Plan, HL-7: C-CDA patient-generated health data and DIRECT messaging between providers and patients.

In addition to Bechtel, the Consumer Empowerment Workgroup includes six federal ex-officio members (from the NIH, CDC, SAMSHA, HRSA, AHRQ and the VA) and 16 members from the private sector. Among them are Jan Oldenburg, VP of patient and provider engagement at Aetna’s accountable care unit; Mark Savage, a senior attorney at the Consumers Union; James Cartreine, clinical psychologist and researcher at Partner’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School; Scott Fannin, VP of consumer services at Greenway Medical; and Sarah Krüg, a former Memorial Sloan Kettering researcher, the current executive director of Cancer101.org and president of the Society for Participatory Medicine.

See also:

Podcast: Population health and consumerizing government services

ONC sees e-health as a foundation for engagement