iBlueButton gets design boost

Q&A with Humetrix CEO credited with making app more powerful
By Mary Mosquera
07:48 AM

Mobile application iBlueButton just got a technical design boost as a multi- and cross-platform health information hub patients and providers can use to share health data at the point of care with the most popular mobile tools.

San Diego-based Humetrix has expanded the ways patients and physicians can exchange health records via its iBlueButton app using not only iPhones and iPads but also Android devices with secure Quick Response code to transfer the patient’s Blue Button record between systems.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT awarded Humetrix first place in its Blue Button Mash-Up Challenge in October. iBlueButton builds on the feature developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which enables patients to download their health information in a simple ASCII text format to their computers or personal health records to share with providers, families or caregivers.

[See also: Two winners emerge in Blue Button app challenge.]

Humetrix CEO Bettina Experton, MD, discusses how iBlue Button can help patients fill in the gap in advancing health information exchange to coordinate and improve care.

Q: Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national health IT coordinator, has talked about the difference iBlueButton made in making his parents’ health information usable, but he didn’t fully understand it until he saw it in action. What is it about the design that makes people want to use it?

A: Blue Button at its start was about a minimal and easy format standard in a text file. The Medicare Blue Button is a text file, but it is not appealing to see. It’s a list of three years of claims of Medicare providers in a list format in addition to all sorts of codes. For instance, in lieu of showing you your provider name, specialty and contact information, you are given a provider name and an NPI code attached to it. Or you have a drug name and code that was filled at pharmacy.

We turn that Blue Button text file into a user-friendly actionable record. We decode all the codes so that now it is a formatted record where everything is in a user-friendly format. We go from a list of claims data to a list of problems and diagnoses. We pull all the claims for drugs and provide a table with all the medications in detail, the brand name, the chemical name, the manufacturer, where it was prescribed and filled. From the claims, we provide a prior history of the patient, with prior hospitalizations, dates, admission diagnoses, ER visits, office visits, imaging, labs and tests and preventive services.

We go from a raw claims listing with a bunch of codes that no one can understand to something really usable and organized, where everything is clear and on view for the patient to see.

[See also: Blue Button sees 1 million patients sign on.]

Q: How will the iBlue Button app advance meaningful use stage 2 and patient engagement with their physicians?

A: To meet consumer engagement requirements for meaningful use stage 2, physicians have to give a means for the patient to access, view, download and transmit their health summary, which can be generated by a Blue Button record. We provide a view download transmit solution so the consumer at the point of care so they can use push technology and transmit his or her record to his physician on a smartphone or iPad device during an encounter.