ONC challenges state HIE grantees to increase consumer data access

In an expansion of its Consumer Pledge program, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has challenged grantees of ONC's state health information exchange program to increase consumers' access to their own health information. Participating states are being asked to make "concrete progress" in the six months to get healthcare data into consumers' hand so they can share it with family members and multiple providers, according to a recent post on ONC's Health IT Buzz blog.

ONC launched the Consumer Innovation Challenge with a meeting on March 20 in Chicago, according to the post. The meeting, which attracted HIE leaders, vendors of personal health records and consumer advocates, addressed such topics as technical architecture, privacy and security, patient outreach, and increasing the use of technological solutions like Blue Button downloads and Direct messaging.

Besides improving patient access to their health data, the Consumer Pledge also asks data holders such as HIEs to encourage consumers "to access and use their personal health information to meet their personal health goals while maintaining their privacy."

The post cited activities in several states in pursuit of these aims, including:

  • The Indiana Health Information Exchange's partnership with the Children's and Hoosier's Immunization Registry Program to give families access to immunization records.
  • The Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NeHII) and SimplyWell teaming to allow consumers to use the Blue Button technology developed by the Department of Veterans Affairs to download their health records into a personal health record (PHR).
  • Healthshare Montana and Dossia making PHRs available to consumers.
  • An Illinois project enabling patients to access mammography images via PHRs.
  • Maryland providers using Direct to send patients' health information to PHRs on Microsoft HealthVault. The providers also will test the ability to access that data, with patient permission.
  • A Georgia HIE serving the uninsured and indigent working with the statewide HIE to deliver lab results to these patients' PHRs, again through the use of Direct messaging.

The importance of these developments was underlined by a recent Healthcare IT News interview with Eric Dishman, director of health innovation and policy for Intel's Digital Health Group. Dishman said that despite the proliferation of mHealth solutions, patients will not be truly engaged in their own healthcare until they become full-fledged members of the care team.

"Until you really change the patient-physician relationship, and expand the care team to the patient, the family member, the neighbor, the untrained volunteer health workers, the nurse, the nurse practitioner, the doctor--when you can orchestrate among those, using social networking tools, reminding tools, online education and coaching, then it starts to be interesting," he said.

To learn more:
- read the Health IT Buzz post
- see the ONC Consumer Pledge
- check out the Healthcare IT News interview

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