“We founded PatientsLikeMe on the concept that sharing health data could lead to a more empowered patient and better overall healthcare system. It’s an exciting and giant step forward for us as an industry as we unite around making health data more accessible to those that matter most – the patients.”
– Ben Heywood, PatientsLikeMe Co-Founder, President
Today the first-ever Consumer Health IT Summit is taking place in Washington, DC. Sponsored by a division of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), this new initiative is designed to empower individuals to be more engaged in their health through the use of health information technology (IT).
During the summit, both government health agencies and private sector organizations like PatientsLikeMe will be highlighting the ways they plan to support your access to electronic health data. For example, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled new proposed rules that would expand the rights of patients to access their health information as well as a model privacy notice template that can be used in the process. In addition, HealthIT.gov, a new resource for consumer health empowerment, was announced.
PatientsLikeMe is participating in this important initiative by making our own pledge to you, which we are committed to completing by spring 2012.
“We pledge to make it easier for individuals and their caregivers to have timely access to their health information in a convenient, useable format through our website. As we continue to encourage and enable them to use this information to improve their health and their care, we pledge to:
1) improve patients’ accessibility to their personal health information by making our Doctor Visit Sheet (a document detailing an individual’s health data and experience) downloadable through multiple formats, including electronically readable formats like PDFs and the “Blue Button” ASCII text standard format;
2) encourage patients to dialogue with their peers and providers about the benefits of accessing and understanding their health data;
3) continue “Putting Patients First” by building a website that helps them to share, access and learn from their health information online.”
What’s a Blue Button, you ask? An open government initiative, Blue Button represents a collaboration between the Veteran’s Administration and HHS to develop an online feature that would enable Veterans and Medicare beneficiaries to easily read, use and share their personal health information with providers and others they trust. The ASCII text file format was selected for its ease of use by individuals, while allowing computers to easily “read” the information.