Consumer center stage at ONC Town Hall
The ONC Town Hall at the mHealth Summit on Tuesday put consumers center stage with a discussion of how patients are getting plugged in to their own healthcare.
Lygeia Ricciardi, director of the ONC’s Office of Consumer eHealth, led a panel at the summit and set the tone with her opening remarks.
[See also: NeHC aims to engage consumer with health IT.]
Consumer engagement can be looked at in one of two ways, she said. On one hand, surveys that report that only 10 percent of Americans use a personal health record are a clear indication of how much work lies ahead for health IT proponents. But on the other hand, surveys indicating that 80 percent of Internet users look for health information show how much potential there is for getting consumers to take greater responsibility for their personal health information.
For much of the session, speakers from the ONC described the range of work that has revolved around the launch and use of the Blue Button. Launched in 2010 by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the initiative is considered one of the most successful examples of consumer engagement to date.
[See also: Blue Button sees 1 million patients sign on.]
In only two years, upwards of one million users have downloaded their personal health information via the Blue Button, Pierce Graham-Jones, Innovator in Residence at the Department of Health and Human Services, told the audience.
Damon Davis, a special assistant to the Office of Consumer eHealth, described how the office has engaged developers across the private sector to devise more user-friendly ways of accessing health information via the Blue Button, while Erin Poetter Siminario, an ONC policy analyst, reviewed the range of materials that have been developed to help consumers understand their rights and opportunities when it comes to using that information.
The discussion quickly expanded to the audience, and turned to questions and comments about privacy and security and payment coverage for new forms of communication between doctors and patients and data ownership.
ONC will soon release its draft consumer engagement plan for a 45-day period of public comment, Ricciardi said.