As billions of dollars of federal funding begin to flow into health information technology (health IT), we ask a simple question: Shouldn’t there be a simple way for individuals to get electronic copies of their own health information?
Now more than ever, policy makers and health leaders are betting on health IT to address the nation’s pressing need to improve health through higher-quality, more cost-effective care. To be successful, this effort must engage patients and their families. Information is a foundational requirement for individuals to become active participants in achieving health improvement and efficiency goals targeted by health IT subsidies under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
In light of this opportunity, Markle Connecting for Health, a public-private collaborative, envisions a common signal to consumers such as a “blue button.” People would come to expect that they could log in and click the blue button to download their own health information from secure Web sites offered by medical practices, hospitals, insurers, pharmacies, and laboratory services.