Markle Foundation and the Blue Button

Having just attended a fantastic session on electronic records at Google last week (organized by NYC Health Business Leaders, of which I'm a co-founder), the acronyms PHR, EHR and EMR are on my mind.  Data recently released by The Markle Foundation caught my attention. Markle is a leader in connecting health and IT, and they appear to be monitoring how well the health IT stimulus dollars are being spent. In particular, they are concerned about the individual, and how individuals will be able to access his/her medical data easily. Markle conducted research among physicians and consumers and found that about 70% of patients and 65% of doctors agree that patients should be able to download and keep their own copies of their personal health information.In August, Markle put forth an idea - the Blue Button.  Medical practices, hospitals, insurers, pharmacies, and laboratory companies would place a blue button on their site to let patients know that they can download their information through a secure site. To see this in practice, visit the Dept. of Veterans Affairs' website: MyHealtheVet.  More than 60,000 veterans have downloaded their medical records since the initiative began in August.  CMS launched a Blue Button on MyMedicare that allows its 47 million Medicare beneficiaries to electronically view, download and print their complete medical records.

Another interesting finding in the Markle study is that 93% of people rarely or never ask for medical records in electronic format from their doctors. I'm among that 93% and I know why. Any time I ask for a copy of anything - just on paper - I get "the look" from the office staff. The one that suggests, "It's too much of a burden."  No longer. I'm wearing a Blue Button for my next visit.