Patient engagement gains momentum

By Mary Mosquera
10:40 AM
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Consumers and patients are gradually taking a greater role in their health but still are the most under-utilized resource in healthcare. Mobile health devices, sensors and information technology are helping them participate more fully.

Thought leaders are using Blue Button as a method to mean not only electronic access by patients to their health data but also the greater movement toward patient engagement and empowerment that it enables.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT will share major developments occurring in consumer and patient engagement technology in education session 128, New Initiatives to Engage Consumers and Patients Through Technology, on Wed., Feb. 26  from 8:30-9:30 a.m., in Room 320 at the 2014 HIMSS Annual Conference & Exhibition.

An important resource in engagement is the Blue Button Connector website, which helps consumers learn where they can get their digital health data from their physicians, health plans and pharmacies using Blue Button, said Lygeia Ricciardi, director of ONC's Office of Consumer eHealth. ONC anticipates launching the Connector in late February.

"Obviously not all of these sources offer digital data to consumers now, but the site lets you find out which do, and communicate with those who don't about your desire for this kind of data access," she said.

The Veterans Affairs Department originated the Blue Button tool in 2010 to help veterans access and exchange their personal health information. Other agencies and private organizations have taken it up since.

Seventeen apps and tools are now available to consumers that use structured Blue Button Plus data. Through the Standards & Interoperability Framework, the Blue Button Plus initiative advances the implementation standards, tools and services associated with the Blue Button to provide consumers with automated updates to their health information in push and pull scenarios in a human readable and machine readable format.

Attendees will also learn about implications for consumer engagement in federal policies, including in meaningful use Stages 2 and 3, so that patients can view, download and CLIA regulations on access to lab data by consumers.

ONC will also introduce the public service announcement campaign for Blue Button, including videos and digital posters that will be distributed by partner organizations. The PSAs are customized for several consumer audiences, such as caregivers, people with chronic conditions and the elderly.