Electronic Health Records

Adoption & Implementation News

ONC shows path to Stage 2 Meaningful Use via Blue Button

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

Things may be changing at the top spot in the Office of the National Coordinator, but one thing staying the same is the department’s commitment to patient engagement through its support of the Blue Button, the tool which gives patients the ability to download their electronic medical record with the press of a button.

In a recent post on HealthITBuzz, Lygeia Ricciardi, Director of the Office of Consumer eHealth at the ONC and Adam Dole touched on the progress made in getting healthcare organizations and providers to adopt the Blue Button as well as the agency’s plan for building on its momentum.

“The use and awareness of Blue Button as a consumer engagement tool continues to skyrocket and we need your commitment to be an active partner in the Blue Button movement,” they explain. “We know more engaged consumers and patients translate into better health outcomes, greater efficiencies in care and higher patient satisfaction — all information that a fully realized Blue Button program can provide to users.”

As Ricciardi and Dole note, Blue Button Plus (BB+) for which an implementation guide was published in February 2013 can be the tool that gets eligible hospitals and professionals to their goal of achieving success in the second phase of the EHR Incentive Programs, Stage 2 Meaningful Use, which includes requirements for patient engagement and access to health information electronically.

“Healthcare organizations implementing the BB+ guidelines will meet Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements, but will also have the opportunity to participate in and create a more interoperable and efficient healthcare system, which improves patient outcomes in a cost effective manner,” they continue.

In order to push the effectiveness and reach of BB+ forward, the ONC is calling on members of the healthcare and health IT community to provide support for this patient engagement health IT tool.

The first recommendation is to share information about the benefits of implementing the Blue Button. “Regardless of whether actual download rates are high or low, we want to know so we can feature you in the Pledge Program Annual Report that will be released on September 16th,” write Ricciardi and Dole.

The second involves connecting with the public (i.e., patients) via the Blue Button Hub. “Our Blue Button team is developing a new consumer facing website,” they reveal, “that will enable consumers to find out which of their providers and insurers are using the Blue Button, and then how to use that information.”

The third and fourth recommendations revolve around sharing information via frequently asked questions (FAQs) or connecting directly with members of the ONC for more details about the Blue Button and what it can do for healthcare reform.

The National Coordinator Farzad Mostashari may be leaving his post, but the ONC is carrying on in his spirit by creating grassroots support for a technology that can then be rolled out to the community at large.

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