The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), a nonprofit authority on the use of health IT to create efficiencies in healthcare information exchange, released the findings from its recent survey on industry awareness and adoption regarding the usage of the “Blue Button” implementation guide for exporting patient healthcare records.
WEDI conducted its first survey on Blue Button in 2013, and as a follow up on the progress of industry adoption since that time, WEDI re-evaluated the industry in 2014. WEDI conducted the survey from Oct. 31, 2014 to Dec. 8, 2014, which included 274 respondents across multiple stakeholders, including providers, health plans, vendors and clearinghouses.
The full survey results can be viewed online and summarized through WEDI’s March 13 letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Some key observations WEDI notes from the 2014 survey in comparison to the 2013 findings include:
- Relying on integrated electronic health record and medical device data to populate personal health records (PHRs) increased. While provider respondents remained relatively consistent in their use of integrated EHRs, a significant increase occurred for government respondents from 60 percent in 2013 to 100 percent in 2014.
- Ensuring awareness of Blue Button as an industry-wide tool remains an opportunity.
- Offering the PHR to all patients when implementing a PHR continues to be significant. There is a high percentage (80 percent in 2014) of respondents that are offering the PHR to all patients/members as opposed to only making it available to select subsets of their patients/members.
- Enabling the patient/member to retain control over who has access to their PHR data through privacy controls continues to be important.
- Transmitting data to patients, providers or authorized third parties appears to occur through DIRECT. Health plan and provider respondents both showed an increase in use of DIRECT for transmitting data, while government and technology developer respondents showed a decrease in use of DIRECT.
- Providing patients with a better overall experience continues to show traditional communication methods as top priorities.
“It is clear through our findings that usage and adoption of personal health records continues to grow among industry stakeholders and awareness of Blue Button+ is slowly building,” said WEDI president and CEO Devin Jopp, Ed.D.
Blue Button is a way for patients to get easy, secure online access to their health information. Recognizing the success and potential of Blue Button, in 2012, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services took on the responsibility for taking it nationwide, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the White House, and a host of other public and private sector leaders. Blue Button is a component of engaging and empowering individuals and their families as partners in their health through information technology, WEDI states.
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) works for the use of health IT to improve healthcare information exchange to enhance the quality of care, improve efficiency and reduce costs of our nation’s healthcare system. WEDI was formed in 1991 by the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and was designated in the 1996 HIPAA legislation as an advisor to HHS. WEDI’s membership includes a broad coalition of organizations, including: hospitals, providers, health plans, vendors, government agencies, consumers, not-for-profit organizations, and standards development organizations.