September 3, 2010 – Medicare and the Veterans Affairs this fall will enhance their websites by adding a "Blue Button" that will enable beneficiaries to download, in a common format, their claims and medical information held by Medicare and the VA.
The information could include summaries of care, current medications and test results. A new policy paper from the New York-based Markle Foundation recommends a number of privacy and security practices that the federal agencies and other holders of patient information should take when offering similar Blue Button services.
The Markle recommendations are pertinent whether an organization offers personal health records software, or otherwise enables consumers to access some part of their medical information via a Web browser.
"If you show it in a browser, give them the option to download it," says Josh Lemieux, director of personal health technology at the foundation.
The recommendations are timely as the HITECH Act enables consumers to receive electronic copies of their records from providers, which Blue Button access could ease. The recommendations cover such areas as authentication and other security safeguards, ways to help consumers make informed decisions about downloading their information, and including the capability in procurement requirements.
Forty-six industry stakeholder organizations representing consumers, providers, insurers, vendors and employers have endorsed the recommendations.