The Cure is in the Hands of the Patient
January 30, 2015
By Bettina Experton MD, MPH, Humetrix President & CEO

As Health IT policy makers and industry leaders prepare to come together next week at the ONC Annual Meeting, it’s an especially appropriate time to think about how much or how little we have accomplished to enable patient-mediated data exchange as a means to solve the lack of information flow in healthcare. Taking action today, Humetrix joined with Accelerate Brain Cancer Cure, Caring from a Distance, Datuit, Get Real Health, NoMoreClipboard, the National Association for Trusted Exchange and the National Council for Behavioral Health in asking the Office of Civil Rights to ensure that individuals can readily exercise their right to access medical records under HIPAA.

Meaningful Use Stage 1 (for Patient Engagement) and Stage 2 (for V/D/T) regulations, along with the new HIPAA rules, require providers to give patients electronic access to their records and the ability to share them using their application of choice. Direct messaging, which is built into 2014 certified EMRs, is a key means for data exchange between providers, but also for EHR transmission to patients.

Business barriers can explain the persistent lack of provider-to-provider EHR exchange, but no such barriers exist for provider-to-patient communication, which can take place now with the existing Direct-enabled EMR infrastructure. Apps like iBlueButton, which leverage Direct to receive and aggregate patient records in a single summary record on their personal mobile device, are key to giving consumers the ability to manage their own health information and share their up-to-date health history from one provider to the next. They provide a cure for health information flow and interoperability now!

Yet, most patients or their family caregivers are completely unaware of individuals’ right to access their health records and the means to do so. Additionally, many providers do not “turn on” the Direct function of their certified EMRs. In many cases, they are not aware that Direct offers a much clearer path for delivering on their Meaningful Use V/D/T requirements than sending their patients to a portal (or multiple portals) to eventually download their own records.

The ONC meeting agenda certainly has a heavy focus on the state of health information exchange and plans for interoperability.

The breakout session on Direct will illustrate how Direct and PHR-enabled patient–mediated exchange is a means to interoperability through a demo featuring iBlueButton. We sincerely hope that this year’s gathering brings clear awareness and tangible actions to make 2015 the year in which we truly realize the vision for patient-centered care with patient-mediated-data exchange.

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