On Tuesday morning, March 6, at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, on the second full day of the annual HIMSS Conference, Seema Verma, Administrator of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), announced the launch of a new initiative called “MyHealthEData,” aimed at revolutionizing the relationship of U.S. healthcare consumers to their patient data.
Verma spoke to about 1,000 people at 9 AM Pacific time in Las Vegas at the Sands; at about the same time, CMS’s website carried the announcement, which stated that, “Today, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma announced a new Trump Administration initiative – MyHealthEData – to empower patients by giving them control of their healthcare data, and allowing it to follow them through their healthcare journey.”
As the CMS announcement stated, “Last year President Trump issued an Executive Order to Promote Healthcare Choice and Competition Across the United States. In response the Administration is moving towards a system in which patients have control of their data and can take it with them from doctor to doctor, or to their other healthcare providers. The government-wide MyHealthEData initiative is led by the White House Office of American Innovation with participation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – and its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), and National Institutes of Health (NIH) – as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The initiative is designed to empower patients around a common aim - giving every American control of their medical data. MyHealthEData will help to break down the barriers that prevent patients from having electronic access and true control of their own health records from the device or application of their choice. Patients will be able to choose the provider that best meets their needs and then give that provider secure access to their data, leading to greater competition and reducing costs.”
CMS Administrator Seema Verma on Monday morning (credit: Peter
Ashkenaz, Office of the National Coordinator)
Further, the announcement said, “The MyHealthEData initiative will work to make clear that patients deserve to not only electronically receive a copy of their entire health record, but also be able to share their data with whomever they want, making the patient the center of the healthcare system. Patients can use their information to actively seek out providers and services that meet their unique healthcare needs, have a better understanding of their overall health, prevent disease, and make more informed decisions about their care.”
The announcement added, “Today in an address at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference in Las Vegas, Administrator Verma also announced the launch of Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 – a new and secure way for Medicare beneficiaries to access and share their personal health data in a universal digital format. This enables patients who participate in the traditional Medicare program to connect their claims data to the secure applications, providers, services, and research programs they trust. For example, Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 will allow a patient to access and share their healthcare information, previous prescriptions, treatments, and procedures with a new doctor which can lead to less duplication in testing and provide continuity of care. Medicare’s Blue Button 2.0 is expected to foster increased competition among technology innovators to serve Medicare patients and their caregivers, finding better ways to use claims data to serve patients’ health needs.” With regard to the Blue Button program, Verma noted that, while Medicare beneficiaries have for a few years now had access to some of their Medicare claims via Blue Button functionality, that data has been in raw form, without any contexting that could make it truly useful for Medicare patients; and Blue Button 2.0 will facilitate that needed contexting. “Currently,” she said, “we give our beneficiaries this data in Excel or PDF formats, without any help in helping them to understand the context of it. That’s useless if that’s hard to understand.”
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