Farzad Mostashari, national health IT coordinator, says more progress has been made in health IT in the last 20 months than during the last 20 years. It’s a statement he made during the first day of National Health IT Week in September.
Increased adoption of electronic health records and the push toward meaningful use have been the catalysts for this movement, most of which has been driven by the financial incentives associated with meaningful use.
The ultimate goal of meaningful use, and the subsequent adoption of the healthcare technology, is data collection. A subset is patient engagement.
To a lot of different people, patient engagement means a lot of different things. For some, it’s about patients having access to their information, and for others it has nothing to do with “giving” patients information, but more about making them the center of care, Mostashari said recently.
Health and its information are owned by its community, he said, and the community must have access to its information. Policies and practices need to be set in place to unleash and unlock the activities of the community.
One effort to encourage this is “Blue Button.”
“Blue Button is national symbol for the concept of ‘give me my data,’” he said during his address at National Health IT Week in September 2012.
But the effort is transcending patients. It’s being brought to the vendor community, and their commitment is being requested. Mostashari has challenged vendors to make it easy for consumers, by as early 2013, to view, download and transmit to another party their health information through Blue Button. Engaging the vendor community is exactly the kind of effort the market needs since they have a seat at the table.
So far, several vendors have committed to meeting the deadline for the challenge, which is by the HIMSS Annual Conference in early March 2013. The current list of vendors to accept the challenge (those deserving some recognition) include:
- Alere Wellogic
- Greenway Medical Technologies
Engaging the vendor community in this effort, for an early push toward view, download and transmit, is the right thing to do and it’s encouraging to to see Mostashari putting ONC’s muscle behind this effort.
Vendors are the folks playing a huge part in the overall effort for a transformed healthcare system and they plan to gain the most because of it. As such, it’s good to see them encouraged to take greater ownership of this process and play a larger role in encouraging the patient engagement process.