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9/1/2010
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Download Capability Backed As Essential To Meaningful Use

Markle Foundation recommends HHS push "blue button" function in health IT systems to allow patients to easily obtain medical records.




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The paper is being released as Medicare and the VA prepare to implement a blue button this fall that will, for the first time, allow beneficiaries to electronically download their claims or medical information in a common format from the My Medicare.gov and My HealtheVet secure websites.

President Obama announced the blue button for veterans in an Aug. 3 address. "For the first time ever, veterans will be able to go to the VA website, click a simple blue button, and download or print your personal health records so you have them when you need them, and can share them with your doctors outside of the VA," he said.

The policy paper also encourages entities that offer the download capability to follow the Markle Common Framework, which is a general set of policies and practices for a wide array of networked personal health information services.

The Markle Common Framework states that personal health record services should provide an easy-to-use mechanism for individuals to export the information in their accounts for personal use. It details that such mechanisms should:

-- Provide information in human-readable form.

-- Log each transaction (e.g., download) in an immutable audit trail.

-- Include time-, date-, and source-stamps for key data entries (i.e., diagnoses) within the downloaded information itself.

-- Include a printer-friendly format.

-- Enable data to be exported into commonly used software formats, such as spreadsheets, PDFs, or text files. Additionally, data should conform to industry standards for health data subsets as they become available and are broadly implemented.

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